When I was sixteen I thought I was a good writer. I had won a National writing competition with a magical realism novella, and the sister of a long dead, famous Romanian poet we were studying in high-school told me I wrote just like him.
This kind of gets to your head, especially at that age. This novella I had written received lots of praise from some of the best writers in the country. Published writers, award winners, people who owned publishing houses. And most of them didn’t even know I was only sixteen.
After that I thought I was so great that I wrote a short story for a competition the day before the deadline. And won first prize. I didn’t bother to write every day. I was just writing when I felt like or when I had to (like it had happened with the story for the competition.)
But the thing is, in writing, art, life, love there comes a time when you think there’s nowhere else to go. You feel like you’ve reached a peak. And maybe you’re aware that there are higher mountains to conquer, but you’re too scared to climb down and start all over again. So you sit down and do nothing.
So I stopped evolving at a crucial stage, because I wanted more, and there was no one to give it to me. No one truly cared about the stuff I wrote, except for a few of my teachers. And it was all… honestly it felt like I was living in a sort of micro-universe. In the real world, in the big world, all my awards and stories weren’t worth much.
This is an extremely crucial lesson, one that most people will never learn, and one that the initiated seldom bother to write about.
Writing is like physical pain. Like a headache, because, you see, it keeps you aware and alive, so much so that the present is the only thing you can think of. And even the act of counting seconds… time just seems to stop flowing.
And nothing you wrote before truly matters anymore. Or the awards you won, or the books you’ve sold. Or the followers.
If it’s painful enough, you put all that aside. Fame or the lack of it, glory, money, and all the other stuff regular people think it’s important in life. If you write about something you want to write about, so bad that you just can’t help yourself, it doesn’t even matter how many people are going to read it.
You just don’t care.
I don’t care.
Because, you see, in writing, as it is with most aspects of life, you never stop learning. You have to approach the blank page with respect, just like a humble servant. If you’re not scared, it means you took a wrong turn somewhere.
If you keep asking yourself whether publishers are going to buy the book you haven’t even started writing, if you keep wondering if your followers are going to agree or disagree with you, that’s just going to show up in your writing. The fear, that’s going to leave an ugly mark. And if you’re so confident that what you’re going to write is brilliant, that’s going to show as well. The arrogance, the halfhearted attempt.
There needs to be a balance, somehow. And being aware and alive, being anchored in the present, feeling seconds tick inside a clock, that’s the best way to do it. And you write, and you write, and you write. Nothing else really matters.