Choosing to Stay

At a very low point in my writing journey, when everything I sent out came back, and everything new I started seemed to lead to the same ending, I found myself standing in the middle of the restaurant where I worked, wondering if I should just quit writing. I had never asked this question in precisely this way before, meaning I’d never perceived there to be two possible answers to this question. On this day, however, I allowed that there were. In response, my imagination showed me an image of thirteen year-old Billy hunched over his typewriter, writing his first novel in the thirty free minutes he had between breakfast and leaving for school. “What would you tell him to do?” my imagination asked me. And so I had my answer.

I think I had never asked this question in this way because I was afraid of the answer. It was as if I had to write and live against the current of some intractable laziness, a steady and recurring desire to just do nothing. The only way to keep myself in the game was to fool myself into believing the sidelines were real, and that I could not step off the field and simply walk away.

Writing – and living for that matter – is all about making choices, but you can’t choose what you don’t know exists. It’s all very well and good to be stubborn and determined and sit down every day no matter what, but it is equally important to remember that even when I do what I love, I am doing so by choice. Otherwise, I am not free. I showed myself the door that day, said, “You can leave if you want,” and in choosing to stay, my life was mine again.


Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion.

"A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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