“It’s amazing how words can cut, can expose, can liberate. How symbols on a page can string together into words, into sentences, into paragraphs that leave us feeling like we’re standing naked in front of a crowd.
Sometimes being a writer feels like laying my heart out for the entire world to see—and often times for others to find lacking. It’s terrifying. It’s exhilarating. It’s exhausting.
The feeling of wanting to give up and quit is familiar to any artist, I think. But somehow we have to dig deep inside ourselves and find the courage to continue on. The question is, how?
For me, it’s all about remembering why I write. I write because there is something inside me that is clawing to be let out. Because the stories literally cannot be contained. Because I need something I do just for myself. Because while it’s hard, it’s immensely satisfying.
Usually the stories we’re the most terrified to tell are the ones we desperately need to write.
I wish there was a blanket fix-all for all artists that would give them the courage to keep going. I don’t think there is. It’s specific to each person, and sometimes specific to each project, how we can find the courage to push on.
My novel Wishing on Baby Dust is about three women who become friends as they struggle with infertility. I wrote the novel while going through fertility treatments myself, and sometimes penning those words felt like ripping my soul from my body. What am I doing? I would ask myself. Isn’t it enough I’m living these women’s stories? Why am I writing about them, too?
Then came the painful revision process. I cut over 50,000 words from that novel through the course of multiple revisions. That’s literally an entire novel’s worth of words, just tossed away. And it hurt. And I wanted to give up. And I asked myself again, Why am I doing this? I was taking precious time away from my family in the evenings to work on my book. I was sacrifice much-needed relaxation and highly coveted TV time to work on the book while my babies napped. And for what?
There was this tiny voice in the back of my head that kept me pushing forward. This feeling in my gut that I had to do this, whether for myself or for someone else I wasn’t sure.
After two and a half years, the novel was finally ready for publication. And a whole new terror gripped me. The terror of having a part of my soul out there in the world, for everyone to read. What if people read my book, my heart, and found it lacking? It was possible. Inevitable, even. No book is for every person. But there was no turning book. One second I wasn’t published, and the next I was.
Publishing a book takes courage in spades. Reading harsh reviews takes a will of steel. Just being a writer, a creator, takes courage. But then I read a review about how my book helped someone. How it made someone laugh, someone cry, someone learn something new and gain a better understanding of someone else’s trial. And all that courage is worth it.
I have three published works out now, and each time I have to dig deep inside myself and find my courage all over again. But as I remind myself why I’m writing, I find that courage and push forward.
And so far, on the other side of the journey, it’s always immensely worth it.”