Sometimes hope is an elusive prospect in the face of the daunting task of writing. The work can seem a chore, endless, lonely, unforgiving, even pointless when one considers the perhaps bigger chore of finding a publisher and an audience.
Those hours spent, those days and weeks soon grow into years of trying again and again, knowing the effort might lead to nothing, sensing that everything you write isn’t good enough, that it will never be good enough, that maybe you should reconsider your passions, if not your career choice. It’s very hard to swallow even for the most stubbornly determined among us.
So I take great delight in sharing this very brief but lovely essay by Junot Diaz, Becoming a Writer. (I know we had an interview with him earlier this session, but I can’t help myself.) His authorial heartbreak and astounding breakthrough are powerful antidotes for that feeling of frustration.
Writing sometimes is not about how much you can take as it is about who you really are. If you are a writer in your soul, then you must go on writing, despite all counter-indications. Every rejection, every challenging critique, every soggy tissue and ream of paper you throw out with the recycling, are just pebbles (Yes, pebbles, I know, I know!). They are the rubble upon which a stronger foundation will be built for the monumental work – short or long, published or unpublished – that you put forth. It is as strong as the pyramids because it bears your sweat and blood and bones.
Writing is unrequited love. Writing is being jilted and still having the courage to return to the altar. Writing is also the intimate wonder of cuddling an infant and examining it delicately to make sure that it is absolutely perfect in every minute detail.
So on this week before Thanksgiving, I wish each of you hope. And I thank all of you who have shared this journey with me. Having this precious circle in which to soothe grief and nurture joy makes every drop of sweat worthwhile.