Before I could have any success as a writer I had to get over the idea that in order to do so I had to be special. From the outside, this seemed empirically true. I read some writers whose work reminded me why life was worth living, who could snap me to attention with one sentence, who seemed to write with such clarity that I could recognize myself in their stories. Other writers bored me, or irritated me, or seemed to be telling stories that somehow I’d already heard. Surely the ones I loved, the ones who inspired and moved me were special compared to the ones who didn’t.
Then there were the numbers. There were the writers who sold millions of books compared to those who sold hundreds of books – or, worse yet, those who sold no books at all. There must be some reason for this difference. Whether that reason was talent or luck, wasn’t it still specialness? For what writer would rather be the one not selling than the one selling millions? Since everyone wants something, and only a few have it, isn’t that specialness right there?
The problem was I didn’t truly feel special. I just felt like me, which is exactly how I’d always felt. Sometimes I felt good and sometimes not so good at all. I always wanted to feel good. This was also a problem because the only way I could see myself as special was if I compared myself to other people. Whether I came out on top or on the bottom I always felt worse than if I hadn’t compared myself because I couldn’t actually love anyone I thought I was better or worse than. What to do?
If you’re a writer you may have noticed that when you retreat to your workroom, when you remove yourself from the public eye, when you forget to compare yourself to anyone and instead allow your mind to drift toward those ideas and stories whose pull is most magnetic – something special occurs. You are both at peace and excited; both content and curious; you are fully awake even as you sink into a dream. If you’re honest, you’ll recognize that this is as good as life will ever get. To live this way always would be quite special indeed, a world of peace within a world of violence, where love is the only dream, and failure is only a nightmare.
If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group conferencing.
Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write With Confidence.
You can find William at: williamkenower.com