Psst…I’m going to let you in on a little secret…
It’s something that every writer knows, so perhaps it’s not too secret.
But here it is: Writing is really, really hard.
We agonize (true agony, I tell you!) over each letter. Each word. Each word combo. Each comma. (Should it even be a comma? Or would a period be best there? Maybe it should be an exclamation point!)
In short, it is torture.
And we do it all in a quiet room with no one else around. (Which, to introverts everywhere, might sound a bit like paradise.) Until those inevitable, venomous thoughts start to spiral and there’s no one there to help corral them.
Every writer goes through this, even the greatest writers of all time. J.R.R. Tolkien, for instance, endured intense painful doubt while he was writing some little project called The Lord of the Rings.
Who would care about Middle Earth? he mused angrily. Who would care about a made up elvish language??
Then, a fellow in his writing group piped up. He cared, he said. He thought the story needed to be told. The world needed it. He needed it. He saw Tolkien’s vision for the project and knew it was worth fighting for.
And thus, with that one voice of encouragement, The Lord of the Rings was born. (That encouraging fellow, by the way, was none other than the impeccable C.S. Lewis. Imagine being in their writing group…)
You see, writing is really, really, hard.
Because, though the writer is alone in the room, they’re writing a message that burns within them. A message that is intended to be shared with all the people who are not in the room. A message, dear reader, that is intended to be shared with you.
So we writers grind and bleed, wrestling the words forth from our veins, hoping against hope that our message is clear, that it makes sense, that it will have some impact on the people who read it.
But there we are. Still alone. Unable to see the effect of our words or the fruits of our terrible, excruciating labor. Unable to understand and believe that our message matters. That our work is worth fighting for. That sharing our voice, our thoughts, our hearts is worth enduring this utter agony.
And that makes it feel as though we’re not alone at all. No, it’s much worse than being alone. Instead, we’re shouting our message to a crowded room with such vulnerability that we may as well be standing stark naked. Then, once we’ve laid every ounce of our heart bare before the world, feeling exposed and raw and bloody, we await a response.
But there is none. No one’s listening. Or so it seems. We’re alone, and yet, we’re not. It’s as though everyone else stands beside us, disinterested, staring blankly at our naked, bloody, exhausted self.
But like I said, every writer goes through this. Including me.
In fact, that’s one reason you haven’t heard much from me lately.
I cranked out 20,000 words on two projects back in April (which, for me—a lady who is constantly surrounded by swarming children—is nearly miraculous.) Then life steamrolled me in May and June, making it impossible to write one single word. Come July, I sat at my computer, staring despairingly at my manuscript.
Who would care about this? I mused angrily. It would be so much easier to stop this madness. Just throw in the towel and be done with it.
And I did.
I decided in that moment to stop. To be done. And for once, I didn’t feel shame in that.
But I could only revel in that relief for about half a second. Because in that moment—and I mean THE moment I officially decided to stop writing for good—I heard from a friend who I haven’t spoken with in years.
And it was this:
So you see, friend, for some inexplicable reason, God has called me to this.
He, in this moment, was my C.S. Lewis. (Imagine being in a writing group with God…)
Because of that, I must give Him my fiat. I must act. I must write.
So here I am, returning to the keys, ignoring the trembling in my fingertips as I give you a bit of my soul. Please be gentle with it. And, on the off chance you know a writer (I’ll send a few your way), read their work. Reach out to them. Let them know you hear them. Let them know you see them. Let them know their writing is worth fighting for. For you, friend, have no idea how much your words matter to us.