New Year, Old Dream

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.

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