It’s one of my well-known quantities as both a writer and a human that I’m extremely transparent and unafraid to share my struggles and joys. Yesterday, that showed up in a small piece of writing that I shared on my Facebook personal page.
After I posted it, and I re-read it a few times as I responded to comments, I decided that I really liked it. It does a good job of describing how I see myself, and how I’m often conflicted by opposing desires: to soar, and to go to ground.
There are people who revel in ordinariness, in walking in step with the crowd, in fitting in perfectly - or at least trying their best to do so. They take comfort in it, and stepping outside of their concept of what's normal would make them very uncomfortable. They actively flourish in that role, and it is home for them. There are others who seem destined to stand out, to innovate or ground-break, to inspire. They feel confined when held to an ordinary life, however that is defined by them. They dream of leaving a mark, a legacy, a story that can never be forgotten. And then there are people like me. I want to fly a little closer to the sky, but not so high that my hubris sends me crashing to the ground. I want to leave something of importance, but it doesn't have to be grandiose and life-changing for millions. I'm not meant to be a superstar - I'm not that kind of smart or clever, I'm not the kind of beauty that sends men to war over me [thank goodness for that], and I don't have power or money that I could use to change the world. But... I don't know how to move through the ordinary world, either. I wish sometimes that I did, that I could be content there, but it doesn't work well for me. I'm like some fragile woodland species, the kind that you find when you move the leaves around on the forest floor. Not showy, but still interesting. The ecosystem won't collapse if you take me home, but you probably still shouldn't uproot me. I know, the metaphor's getting weird. That's also appropriate. Anyway, none of those roles are inherently better or worse than the other. I just have always wanted more, but I don't seem very adept at succeeding in creating my own level between these others. I keep doing my own thing, hoping that at some point a curious hiker will wander from the path and lift the undergrowth to discover that I've been hiding under the leaves all along.
Becoming an author is an exercise in hope.
You write the words, and craft the story, trusting that it will be good enough to share with the world. You have to believe so strongly that your writing is Good Enough, Relevant Enough, Meaningful Enough. You give your time and energy and sleep and dreams to this work. Oh, and don’t forget your money, so much money is needed to create the book, and get it in front of potential readers. Editing, layout, cover art, advertising, and all the other little details.
It’s a wonder that any books get written at all.
The hope keeps us going. We write–late at night, at lunch, early in the morning–piling words and imagery like a treasure hoard. We scour websites for tips on how to market ourselves better, and send pitches with our fingers crossed. And we read the books that made it, from our colleagues and contemporaries and classic authors, and let their words and worlds inspire us. We look at their success and think, “Maybe one day, it’ll be me.”
And we never stop writing. We can’t. The words never stop coming.
We live on hope.