I called my dad a couple days ago to ask him a serious question. You see, I’ve been starting to save money so I can go to the SCBWI conference in July. And the more money I put aside, the more guilty I became.
While writing the first draft of my first manuscript, I was impressively consistent. I had a toddler and an infant, but still I managed my goal of 700 words (I know Jack London said 1,000, but I figured 2 kids bought me at least a 300 word leeway). Sometimes the thought that my previous experience consisted of papers and short stories of no more than 10-15 pages became daunting, but the ever climbing word count was reassuring and I pushed on.
As a newbie, I ran into other stumbling blocks as well. I remember the first time I had a critique partner read my work, say she thought it had tons of promise, and then hand me back a manuscript brimming with red marks. (…but I thought you said you liked it…? 😦 ) Still, there were more ups than downs. I discovered I enjoyed parts of the writing process I didn’t think I would (like editing, who knew?!) And I saw my accomplishments pile up: a completed first, second, 20th draft.
I started a blog (this one 😉 ), signed up to be a contributor and then editor for Albuquerque City Moms Blog, made plans to go back to school for my MFA once my children got a little older. I was confident I’d found the career I wanted to pursue the rest of my life.
And then I got pregnant, which for me meant hyperemesis gravidarum (or as I like to call it – the puke until you feel like you’re going to die disease). Writing stopped, but I told myself it was only temporary. In fact, I believe my last post said something to that affect. But even after I could move and eat without vomiting, even after our third son came and my energy level went up (slightly), even after he began to form a bit of a nap routine, I didn’t write. Not consistently anyway.
Now, of course, I could come at you with all sorts of excuses. Legitimate ones even. I’ve got three boys 5 and under who, despite some progress, have yet to manage coordinating their schedules. I’ve got a baby who wakes me up several times a night. I’ve got family who is about 900 miles too far away to babysit or lend a hand. But none of those are the real reason I stopped writing.
I stopped because I got scared.
Which brings us back to the phone conversation with my dad.
My sister, who is amazing and extremely talented, has recently received both her desired chemistry internship and a journalism scholarship. I am super proud of her! Hearing about her exciting news brought me back to my college days. It’s not been that many years, but I feel like a completely different person. Back then, I thought I had everything figured out too. However, though I still enjoy music, I have absolutely no desire to utilize my music education degree anymore. (my kiddos are enough, I can’t handle being in charge of molding someone else’s too)
I have one manuscript, sure, but the second one has been at a stand-still for almost a year now. So I wondered: was writing my music ed degree all over again? And more importantly, am I good at it? Enough to make it my vocation?
This is what I asked my dad. I wasn’t looking for false flattery or a boost for my ego. I was looking for honesty. And though he is my dad (and therefore bias), he’s also one of the best writers I know. So when I asked for the truth, I knew I would get it.
There is no twist to this part of the story. He did, in fact, as I’m sure you all suspected, tell me I was a very talented writer. And though he admitted this didn’t guarantee me a career, he assured me it wasn’t a waste of my time/money to try.
It was a nice conversation. But it’s not what inspired me to write this post, though it did motivate me towards what did.
The phone call ended with us deciding to exchange writing by the following week. So Saturday, though I still wasn’t convinced I had what it took, I sent my husband to the park with our children and I dutifully sat down to write.
A few hundred words in I found myself thinking, “God, I love this.”
The rush. The high you get while creating a story. There’s nothing like it.
It’d been so long since I’d forced myself to sit down for any length of time and just write. I’d forgotten that feeling. I’d let doubt take its place.
But when I write, when I let it take over, the doubt dissolves.
So even if I never get published. Even if I’m not really any good. I’ll keep writing. Because I’ve rediscovered the rush.
And there’s no way letting that go.