There have been times where I have promised short posts, and it never happens. So, I’m not going to promise anything of that nature. Whatever happens, happens.
I do want to share something I accomplished this weekend. I typed out a draft of my “Cell Games” story. The “prologue,” to be more precise. So you’re probably thinking, “Big deal. He typed out a draft. He should be doing that anyway.”
Well, yes, but allow me to explain. You see, in my college days, I was so insecure and self-conscious about my writing and about me. I compared myself to other students; I thought they were on another level that I couldn’t possibly achieve. I listened to the voices inside my head; the voices that said, “I am no good. You should give up now. You’ll never be as good as them.” And it only got worse. During my on and off writing phase, I tried to type out drafts on my laptop. I tried to do journal entries. And ninety percent of the time, I would go no further than the first paragraph. Or, if I was really on my game, the first page. Afterwards, I would forget about them, and when it came time to get rid of files I didn’t need, my drafts would be sacrificed. Understand that I was at a point in my writing life where I didn’t take things as seriously as I needed and that I didn’t have the discipline to write something every day. Or make up a day if I missed one. Writing wasn’t a priority back then, and it showed.
So, after making the decision to fully commit myself to writing, I decided I would do certain things. The biggest was to not throw away anything I wrote. Journals, drafts, notes. Everything I wrote, I would hold close to my chest. So I bought pens and composition books. I wrote as time would allow. But I still struggled with being self-conscious, even though what I was writing was not going to be shared. Those same voices were there. I didn’t do anything about them, but I should have.
So, I wrote in my journal and draft book. The problem, though, was that I would leave drafts incomplete. Some drafts I abandoned out of boredom; some because I felt the story was going anywhere I wanted. Either way, I felt I was getting nothing accomplished. So, I stopped for a while until I could get things together.
Enter Twitter. I connected with scores of writers of all levels. Some were published, some trying to get published, some just starting out. Everyone had their input on the writing process. I decided to pay attention what they had to say. And after joining in some chat sessions, I felt different. For the first time, I felt encouraged. I felt empowered. I felt I wasn’t alone in this journey. And that’s the thing: writers are not meant to partake in this venture alone. Writers need other writers, just as much as writers need to write. But still lurking were those voices that said I shouldn’t share my work. I addressed this in a chat session one day. Everyone agreed that I should share my work; that there are people who want to read them. Another time, I discussed writing in a journal and typing. The person brought up a good point: when I write with pen and paper, I am creating; when I type, I am allowing others to view and critique my work. That is what I wanted all along: to craft great stories for people to read. I couldn’t do that keeping my incomplete draft book close to me. If I wanted to be a better writer, I had to let people read my work.
A few months ago, I downloaded Open Office, a program that mirrors Microsoft Office in so many ways. I wasn’t quite ready to use it, until this weekend. I chatted with someone who was interested in reading my work. All I had to do was write it and send it off. So, there was an ulterior motive, but I finally decided that it was time to stop making excuses and do what I was meant to do. I started my draft Friday and finished it tonight. I am proud of myself. I overcame my fear. I overcame the voices. I still have to deal with them, but it’s starting to get a little easier.
Hopefully, that made some sense. As Obi-Wan Kenobi put it, “You’ve taken your first step to a larger world.” I have more stories to write, and not just “The Cell Games.” There are so many ideas I have. But now I know I have an audience. Albeit, small, but it’s a start. And I know I can be just as proficient on a laptop as I am on paper.