Keeping the Flame


Writing is by its very nature hard, yet it is also simple provided you don’t get in your own way. I find the easiest times for me to start writing is when I’ve done little to prepare myself for the act itself. As if it was the next breath for my body’s internal rhythm clock. The more I pump my energy levels up to write, the more I find that I can’t sit still when I get behind the keyboard. This is also why I enjoy writing with traditional pen and paper. I feel it’s easier to focus my will when I have pen in hand. It might be truth that more of me gets out of the pen than tapping on these keys, but I’ve done some good work behind the keyboard as well.

People will tell you, “just write.” These are the same people who have multi-million dollar book deals too. It’s easy for them to sit on the pinnacle of writing success and tell you those patronizing words, “just write.” There’s more to it than that and they know it. There’s sacrifice, of your time and the time you spend with others. You have to be prepared to miss out on certain parts of your own life to birth these projects called books. It doesn’t happen in a vacuum, where time stops and you get to enjoy a lazy weekend of writing. It happens when you choose to make the time for it, and that means juggling job, home life, and everything else going on, which can make some of your family understandably upset. It’s more than just sitting down and writing. It’s giving months or even years of your life over to a project in hopes that you’ll find some crumb of success and turn that into enough fuel to keep the flame alive.

Because writing is hard, and anyone who tells you different is selling something.*

For those of us who’ve been afflicted with this special kind of gift, it means that we get to show our true talent behind the desk. It means that maybe we weren’t the most outgoing person, or maybe we had a hard time making friends because we were awkward, but damned if we couldn’t tell a story when people chose to listen. It mirrors the way the gift of music works, as they are close like brothers, each one sharing traits form the other. Which is why so many writers I know also play music and musicians I know write.

We seek to express that which cannot so easily be said.

Even the freest of speech zones might not be enough to share some ideas, as now we must contend with the those around us becoming offended. I say if there is something you believe must be said, then find the courage to say it, or write it, but be prepared to hear opinions you do not like. These are some of the challenges we face externally when we write. How a piece of art might be perceived. They will tell you that there are no boundaries, that you must just create and leave worry and concern behind, but that is not the way the world works. Humans are judgmental and opinionated, and there are those who will rip you apart if you let them. You must keep your flame alive.

That flame must be enough to propel you forward, like the bygone era of steam trains roaring down the tracks to their next destination. It must be enough to warm you on the cold winter’s night when you sit in your chair and try to describe the visions and pictures it your head. It must be enough to force you into action when you’ve had a hard day, a hard week, and a hard month. The flame must be as close to your next breath as you can take, but remember even Icarus flew too close to the Sun and fell to his death. We must be willing to keep the flame alive as long as we can, and that’s hard, but that’s writing, and if you want to get to top, you’ve got a lot of work to do.

I’ll see you up there. Stay warm along the way.

*h/t to The Princess Bride