When I first started learning how to read, I hated it. By the third grade, when I began to love reading, I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to create the kind of stories I loved. Sometime between then and now, though, I became too scared to become a writer.
I don’t usually do New Year’s resolutions. As someone who makes self-defeating goals all the time, why should the New Year be special. About an hour before midnight, though, a question popped up in my head: what if I made resolutions for the things I’ve always dreamed of doing? What would be the harm of finally writing down the stories I keep in my head? No harm at all.
There was a time when writing was a comfort for me. I felt like the odd duck both at home and at school and writing allowed me to feel normal. My characters could be like me or they could be who I wished I was. I could wallow in my teenage angst or I could imagine dreamy worlds of romance. The only thing holding me back from being a better writer was fear.
Sharing my stories for critique always made me scared. I wasn’t afraid people would dislike my stories, I was afraid they would dislike the way I wrote them. After I took a few high school fiction workshops, I allowed the fear to hide behind hubris. First drafts were the only drafts. Why would I need to edit for anything other than typos? I was like Mozart – the first draft was perfect; there was no need for rewrites. And, if everything I wrote was perfect, then there was no need for feedback.
The problem with the expectation of perfection, though, is that everything must be considered perfect. By the time I reached college I had stopped writing for personal pleasure because it didn’t bring me pleasure. I had placed too much pressure on myself.
The stories never stopped forming in my head, though. I began hoarding blank journals. I searched for the perfect pen like it was the Holy Grail. My thinking was that I needed the perfect tools to write the perfect story. Dozens of Moleskins and a giant box of pens later, I was still stuck.
I have had moments of freedom in the last ten years or so. Times when I’ve written and enjoyed myself. Where I didn’t feel the pressure to be the perfect writer. Where I gave the stories to others to read and they liked it. Where they liked the way I wrote and encouraged me to keep writing.
And that’s why one of my resolutions is to just write a little bit everyday. Just enough to have some fun. I don’t want to be The Great American Writer. If I ever get published, that’s great, but it’s not important to me right now. I want to find again the pleasure from working hard on a story and seeing it all the way to the end.