A Writer Perseveres
A few months ago I received a handwritten letter from a dear friend in the mail. In it she spoke of my writing and offered some advice:
Don't Quit! We all have to learn & refine our craft AND find our own unique voice. I think this is where you are. Some people are gifted with what seems effortless talent. The rest of us have to work on it!
I am ashamed to say that at first blush my pride was hurt when I read her words. Instead of seeing the truth and encouragement in them at a time when I needed those, I fell into the familiar pit of discouragement and started wondering what was wrong with my voice, or if others thought I even had one as a writer, and why it was that I still had much to learn when I have written regularly for some time now. In place of these initial selfish thoughts, I could have been reflecting on my great fortune in having a friend who cared so much she wrote me a traditional letter by mail and dedicated some of its words to bolster me up in my dreams.
About that time - as I was feeling that familiar creative bleakness - I also read a post from Jennie Goutet, a blogger and author at A Lady In France, called A Mountain Meeting With God, and it humbled me to read her perspective of her own myriad endeavors, because to me she seems one of those gifted with effortless talent. And something struck me as I read it. Perhaps I am not the writer I believed myself to be. Perhaps I am just burdened with my own prideful expectations. That could be the reason why I have difficulty engaging people in such a way that they feel compelled to share my work or comment on it. Perhaps God has different plans for me (even though the idea of that saddens me - as if my God did not know me and the desires of my heart far better than I do). Perhaps I am expecting more from people than I am able to give through my words. Just because I have wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl does not mean I am a better one than someone who realized they wished to write for an audience last year. The pride must go.
And so must the discouragement.
I often wonder how far I might go in my writer's journey without this knapsack of discouragement I carry around perpetually, ready to hug it to me in some lonely place, sniffling as a shower of negative thoughts fall around me. What could I do if I stopped comparing myself to other bloggers? What could I do if I stopped beating myself up for not being "popular", squashing my inspiration in self-doubt?
Well, I could persevere and ditch that poisonous baggage I haul around on top of my dreams. My dreams might then be so buoyant, they could lift me up like a hot air balloon. I could write more and trust that somehow, someday all this work will pay off.
Because diligence does pay off. A post came around that illustrated my friend Camille's words perfectly. It was a piece about my 35th birthday, and it gave me headaches. I spent more than a week writing and rewriting it, wondering why it was taking me so long to say what I wished to say in the way I wished to express it. Then I asked the inevitable, If I am a writer, why can't I find the words to tell a story that I so badly want to tell? After writing for years why do I still grapple with the effect of my words so much? But I persisted in writing it, and the work did indeed pay off. It got a few comments, several likes, and some of my friends told me in person just how much they enjoyed it. (You can find that post HERE.) Camille's words of wisdom finally hit home. We are not given the same gift. Some do indeed have effortless talent and are quite prolific, too, the Agatha Christies of the world. The rest of us have to work on it, but in doing so we know we will "refine our craft AND find our unique voice". We may never receive the acclaim we desire, but in persevering we at least know we are using our unique God-given gift, doing what we were made to do.
I recommend this piece by Christine Carter on discouragement and gaining a renewed perspective: That Dirty Rag of Discouragement.