When all the trite advice and famous quotes from authors you worship have faded, and there’s just you alone and a stack of words, sometimes it just sucks.
I read that Charles M. Schultz said, “Cartooning will destroy you; It will break your heart.” Yeah, this uplifting number from Charlie Brown and Snoopy’s creator. Break your heart, he says. It will destroy you.
I sat at home during the going-away party, writing. I was awake during our overnight stay at the hospital, dozing in the shitty recliner there, a pen and paper in hand, editing the rough draft. We put the finishing touches on Rabbit in the Road in the emergency room. Sometimes, it just sucks.
I missed my tv shows. I missed new movies. I didn’t return phone calls. I didn’t read the blogs I usually read. Hell, I barely managed to comment or post on my own blog. It didn’t destroy me, or quite break my heart.
But I learned a lot about commitment. It’s not just how much you want something. I’ve wanted to be a writer forever, as long as I can remember. Commitment isn’t about intent. It’s about accomplishment. Commitment is setting all of those other things aside, all lesser things. Priorities get refined.
Some things still outrank story; getting dinners on the table, going to work, feeding the cats, spending time together. Some things don’t. Movies will wait. Shows will wait. Gossip blogs, reading for pleasure, all that can wait. All of these lesser things got set aside while we finished. Those things were all excuses to not finish, and our level of commitment showed me that.
I hear a lot from people that they wish they could write, or draw, or create, or craft. Then I hear a lot of excuses. If you truly want to commit to creation, you have to toss lesser things aside. Sometimes that sucks. Sometimes it’s a little lonely to be fretting over your word count while everyone you know is voting for their American Idol. Sometimes it’s like being an alien on your own planet, listening to people talk about all the things you missed while you were down in the writing trenches. Sometimes it sucks a lot.
Maybe devoting every free moment to your craft breaks your heart. Maybe it could destroy you. Maybe it sucks.
But it sucks a whole lot more to never do those creative things at all.