Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Only Thing That Matters

I sent off another story yesterday. Now I’m wondering if I sent it to the right place. It’s how the self-doubt starts.

In a few weeks, if I don’t receive a response, the question will shift in a subtle way. It will become something very different. It will turn into “Was it ready to send out?" And then “Did I need to do more work on it?”

And all of a sudden, like a trap door dropping beneath my feet when I least expect it, the question will become: “Was it good enough?” Meaning, of course: “Am I good enough?”

Maybe each of us asks this question, or maybe it’s only me questioning my own worth as a writer.

Even after years of writing, I notice, I find myself still seeking reassurance from an external source that what I do is valid, that the words that I put down on the page are legitimate. It’s as if I need to hear a voice say, “Yes, the words are fine. You are good enough.”

In the end, though, writing isn’t a question of whether anybody else thinks we’re good enough or that our words are fine. Rather, it’s about determining just how much writing means to us, regardless of how others might view our work.

If your writing doesn’t thrill you or make you happy or move you, well, you don’t need to ask anyone. You know. And then it's a question of why it's not pleasing you... or what you can do to make it more thrilling, more moving. 

Sure, sometimes you may make a mistake. You may think your story is ready to share before it’s actually ready to go out into the world. That’s okay. We all make that mistake.

Does your story still pull you into it?

If the answer is yes! then keep working on it. Send it out again.

But if it has lost its pull, put it aside. Work on something else. Let the story simmer on a back burner. Wait for it to cook a little more. See how it develops.

You have to trust your opinion, not someone else’s, to decide when your work is ready to send out. It’s your choice. The fate of your work rests in your hands.

Try to remember this: silence—even rejection—is not always about you or your work.

Ask yourself how you can sustain your work in the face of silence and rejection. How can you keep writing?

Sometimes it’s just learning to ignore the silence and critical voices.

Sometimes it's just this: keep your hand moving across the page.

In the end, with or without recognition, with or without readers, you’ll write because of one reason: your need to write.

That’s the only thing that matters, really, and the only reason to keep writing.