Why Do You Write or What Will Get You Writing in 2015?
Do you aim to inspire, motivate, entertain or release your creativity? Is there a story you’ve been longing to tell? Last year, I finally got off my ass and committed myself to living a writing life. After 40-plus years of stops and starts, all it took was a powerful concoction of Envy, Jealousy, Fear and Regret.
It’s a cold March morning in 2014 and I’m due at a stupid new job with unfriendly, pinched-face women I detest. I put off getting up long enough to check Facebook and read my younger sister’s announcement. She has started a blog.
Without talking to me. Without getting my advice. This woman – who has supposedly looked up to me her whole life as the writer in the family – followed instructions in a book, bought a domain name and started a blog. I am turning 49 in less than six months and she has beaten me to it.
And it’s freakin’ hilarious. It evokes emotion and sets a scene and makes me laugh and I want it to be me. Sure, I’ve been dabbling longer but she committed. She has a website and everything! She will be famous before me and everyone will now say that she’s the writer. Everyone knows there’s only room for one writer per family. I will lose my special identity and this upsets me despite my realization that I’m usually talking or thinking about writing instead of doing it.
There is jealousy but also fear. I’m afraid of losing my special writer status. I’m afraid of averageness. I’m afraid of dying without testing myself, realizing my potential, finding my passion. My stated purpose in life was always to create a loving family which I’ve done. But secretly, I know there’s an individual component I’ve neglected. I know I could do more, do better and I’m afraid it might be too late.
Despite the powerful if unattractive emotions of Envy, Jealousy, and Fear, the strongest is Regret.
A story comes to mind about a man who dies and goes to Heaven. In this Heaven, everyone gets the room best suited for them. His is a library lined floor to ceiling with wood shelves brimming with books. He will spend eternity with those things he treasures most. He selects a volume and cracks it open to find its pages empty. He sets it aside and chooses another and then another. All of them filled with blank pages. He asks his angel guide why this is happening to him. The guide explains that these are the books he was supposed to have written.
I am momentarily paralyzed by regret for the time I’ve wasted without writing anything more than the family Christmas letter. I feel dread and urgency to take action, to create motion.
By 10:30 this March morning, I will quit my job with my husband’s blessing. Within a week I will be writing at least five days a week and will sign up for the first of many workshops. I will start a new job that allows me to squeeze in writing during down time. Within three months, I will start a story via email that I will turn into the first completed draft of my first novel. I will sign up for a writing retreat, treat myself to weekly meetings with a writing coach, and I will seek out an editorial evaluation of my manuscript.
By year’s end, I will commit to rewriting the novel, I will publish numerous book reviews and author interviews and two flash fiction stories. I will submit several pieces and perform one live on stage. I will have business cards and a website and join Twitter.
THIS NEW YEAR
And on January 1, 2015, I will be lounging around in my pajamas with my husband trying not to watch Denzel Washington’s latest film (love him, hate all the blood). I will check my email and see that a writer in Canada has mentioned me in a post on her website. She will mention me by name saying that an essay I wrote spurred her to set her writing intentions for this year.
I will pause the movie and try to tell my husband why I’m crying about this. He will chuckle at my tears and somehow understand what I can’t say out loud at that moment. In many ways 2014 has been a challenging year for me and my family but in this one thing, in my pursuit of this thing, I am figuring stuff out. And one person, in a country I’ve never visited, is reacting to something I’ve written. I’m laughing and crying…it’s like a magic trick.
In 2015, I will write in comradery with my sister and with the support of a network of biased relatives and friends. I invite you to join me.
I will write with boundless gratitude for lessons I’m learning and the professional writers sharing their experience. I invite you to join me.
I will write with pride in my own efforts to improve and an urgency tinged with joy and excitement instead of fear and regret. Yep, you’re invited to join me in this too.
My writing intention for this year is really a warning: Watch out 2015 – I’m coming for you and I’m going to kick your ass!