APOLOGIES FOR NOT POSTING in awhile, though I’m not sure to whom. It would seem that it’s to you, the reader, that I owe the apology. But if a writer is not constantly writing–the writer is hurting himself. It’s the thing that smothers us, if we let it. The thing that sits waiting in the corner, or over our shoulder, or under the bed, that waits to earn points in the game of I Am Your Creativity. As writers, we must go, move, stay ahead, find the short cuts, remain focused at all costs, for Creativity to win. It’s the only reason we’re in the game. The only reason we’ve shown up. Doubt is our opponent. Fear is behind him. Defeat wants Fear to win as many rounds as possible, and if Fear wins the game, Defeat proudly receives the champion’s trophy, raising it high above his head for all of his cheering fans to see. As writers, we can see Fear. We understand Doubt. But if we ever get close enough to FEEL Defeat waiting on the sidelines, it’s crucial to our own survival that we revise our game strategy.
There are no words to describe how I felt when I was offered my publishing contract for “Their Souls Met In Wishton”. (The original title was “Two Souls That Met in a College Town”, but I was concerned that would imply the characters were in college when they met, and they weren’t.) After I answered a couple final questions for the chief editor and submitted a marketing plan, I was told a contract offer would be forthcoming. When it came, all I could do was stare at the email for several minutes before finally opening it. When I did, well, like I said, there are no words to describe my joy. This stuff that was part of me, this story I told, these characters I took every last ounce of my soul to bring to life over the past few years, these words on paper–MY words–were going to appear where people could actually read them!
Now, with the release of my first novel just one week away, I can only compare the feeling to another major thing that I’ve never done before–being naked outside. Or, as my next door neighbor, Sue, put it, when I shared with her what it really felt like now that the book was coming out, “and not naked like here in the driveway. Naked like, at the mall.” We shared a huge laugh. She absolutely nailed it (leaving me to speculate whether there may be a bit of a writer in Sue waiting to come out, because I don’t believe a non-writer would have understood the type of nakedness I was talking about, as perfectly as she described it).
We human beings are physically naked all the time, in so many ways. Naked in the privacy of our homes, in the bedroom, in the bathroom, around the house, naked making love, naked at a nude beach, or at the doctor. When we’re naked in the company of a person or persons other than ourselves, it’s assumed there is, at the least, some level of acquaintanceship, and at the most, profound trust. Naked outside, for all the world to see, is another concept altogether. If going about your day naked outside (and I think we’ve established that I don’t mean outside, as in, watering the garden in your back yard) is beyond your realm of experience, as it is mine, that level of vulnerability would be terrifying, not to mention, illegal. And I don’t believe it matters where on a scale of 1 to 10 that you, or others, rate how great they believe your body is. Ordinary or athletically gifted, exposed is exposed.
One of my favorite quotes of Stephen King’s about writing is, “The scariest moment is always just before you start.” Then after you start, it gets easier each time, and soon you discover that Fear and Doubt aren’t in the room with you anymore, and the process draws you in, and you can’t hold your eyes open because you’ve stayed up for hours doing it, and when you finally do go to bed, you can’t sleep because you can’t rest until you can write again. After awhile, anything you do that ISN’T writing feels unnatural, and something in you starts to take over in this game of I Am Your Creativity in a way that makes you feel like you could actually win it. In time, the scariest moment will become such a distant memory that you might not even remember what it felt like, or maybe, that it ever existed. The exhilaration of YOU, the thoughts in YOUR head, pouring out like a pitcher of YOUR favorite beverage with unlimited refills (because writers know there’s so much more stuff where that came from), whether beautiful, ugly, scary, funny, mysterious, sad, joyful or mundane, is all birthed from a very safe place. It’s a special place from which there is nothing to offer except yourself, a place only you can see. Until, what has to be the second scariest moment for a writer…being naked outside.