Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Feeling Like Giving Up

Have you ever felt like you had a purpose, but no real way to get there: a traveler without a destination, a road without an end, a passenger blindly wishing for the guide's control?  I'm on this path, reaching for a lifeline.
    I knew I was a writer at age nine, when I wrote an amateurish ninety-page story that later ended up in the trash.  A teacher told me I wasn't meant to be a writer...she really taught me something--to try harder.
    When I was ten, I ripped the top from a big rectangular box and told myself to sit there and write. I'd stay box-bound for hours each day, reading, penning stories, and dreaming.  I did that for weeks, until finding a spider in a dark corner of the cardboard, and disavowing writing nooks forever.
    I've grown up now, and I don't need to make myself write anymore.  The words just come--like a monster begging to be released from a host.  These are words from stories, not fully discovered yet.     
    A dear friend of mine says every person has a least one book in them. One day she said I must have dozens; I wish she would've known, so she could tell me.  Then I could stop wondering over my literary purpose and just know exactly. 
    I love writing almost more than I love breathing.  But more than that, I NEED to write.  It's been said that over 350 billion people have lived since Adam.  How does that make you feel?  350 BILLION.  That's why I need my damn writing.  It's part of my ignition, what makes me feel valid, special, like my voice amongst billions, matters....  As if God will take notice, to a nothing like me.
    But lately I feel like I should stop writing, stop dreaming.  It's a sad thing when doubt quenches who we are, and a once raging fire begins dying out.  One day, several years ago, I'd hiked to the base of a waterfall. I sat by myself and wrote about my journey up the mountain. I remember traipsing down that trail, notebook in hand, thinking I'd rarely been part of such a beautiful moment, with just me, God, nature, a story...and that was enough.
    When did writing become more to me?  That I longed to be society's definition of a "real" author?  That I hoped for it so bad my heart physically hurt because another "author" had been snobby, or a local bookstore owner said I wasn't popular enough to have a signing in his small store.  After that, I wanted the damn respect.  I wanted to be read more than ever. I envied writers who made a living with their stories--and could afford more than dollar items at McDonald's, like I could. 
    Instead of enjoying writing at the base of a waterfall, it turned into something I despise AND love.
    Truth is, we each win little battles every day.  Sometimes it's the little battles with big wins that make the difference: the buoy of a dying soul.
    I keep struggling, like we all do.  Yet today, I'm really doubting myself.  For just a moment I'm tired of fighting, hoping, wishing and dreaming.  This let-down about writing has made me think about so many other things.  My last book took over 3 years to write, over 3,000 hours of sweat and carpal-tunnel aches from my keyboard-fingers.
    I'm not soliciting sympathy; don't get me wrong.  I just wanted to say that I'm doubting myself today--guts out.  I don't know if my writing will every truly go "anywhere."  I just need to have faith that it's gone where it needs to, and will continue to.  After all, I've had so many odd successes--met strangers who have read my books, discovered I had the stamina to keep trying even after one-hundred queries returned to me as rejections instead of offers. 
    And through this, it's still hard to contain the words inside, even when some people have told me maybe it's time to stop....
    So, today I did what I can't avoid--despite some people's advice. I started on something that's been haunting me, a memory...clinging to my hair, my clothes, my skin, like a sickeningly-sweet smell of an old lover, or an abandoned room I never want to revisit again.  The smell of iodine from a dying person's room.  The taste of whiskey after the ultimate betrayal.  Hatred burned from a soul, because the pity was too strong.  And that's what I feel today, pity for myself, for lost dreams, for the fact that today...I am sad. 
    We can have dreams, 1 out of 350 billion, but if everyone got their exact dreams, maybe they wouldn't be quite so valuable after all....

A very uncharacteristic,
Elisa