I’m being hard on myself. I know it and still, I can’t force myself to let up. I was born with high expectations. They weren’t forced upon me–I wish they had been. I sort of cultivated this expectant attitude after being around those who weren’t exactly trying to live with any sense of expectation. So maybe it was forced upon me. I don’t know.
I was blessed enough to attend a truly inspirational writing program with high achieving individuals. Writers. People yearning to be published; people who have been published. Writers writing. Isn’t that what I’m supposed to be doing with my life? That’s what everyone asks after the, “So what are you going to do with a writing degree?” question. Gals and guys, I write. I also read, mother a willful 5-month old alone, and search daily for a job. But I’m doing something wrong.
My loving writing mentor, a woman I call friend and guide, tells of writing by candle at five in the morning while the babies sleep. I used to be able to do that. I used to have phenomenal concentration. I could slide so easily into a city I’ve invented on the page and dwell there for a couple of hours. I used to read, find inspiration, and go into a writing fit that would rival any other writers writing practice. I had the mind of a hungry writer thirsting to be better. Now, I have the degree. I’m doing something wrong.
I just assumed it would be easier. I assumed I could write things, you know, crawl into my emotions and churn out these amazing stories that tell the truth. I hoped for some of the kind of discipline that other writers manage to have. I secretly wished for it to be easier. You know what I’m learning: I’m the biggest threat to my writing. I am the one who can or cannot do this. I know I can. I’ve seen it plenty of times. I’m going to steal an Aaron Sorkin line: “You’re blessed with inspiration.”
There are things I wish I had done when I was 23, but I knew fear too intimately then. I’m now 31 and fear has lost its grip. Maybe it’s been replaced with doubt but I had a conversation with my grandmother last night that reminded me of faith. There are things I will accomplish now because I’m not 23 any longer. I don’t fear failure; I fear never trying. I’m still trying, but I’m sure I’m doing something wrong.