“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.” -Seneca
Over a decade ago, I set out to write a book. I spent hundreds of hours writing and planning. It was going to be a masterpiece. Needless to say, I had a very high opinion of myself. But then life got in the way, and I got distracted with things like home ownership and building a career in the corporate world.
About a year after I had begun my writing journey, I found myself in a place of happiness which manifested into writer’s block. I spent the next year trying to write like I did when I started the book. Time passed and as I entered my third year of writing my expected book died during delivery.
It was easier than I’d like to admit abandoning my hopes of becoming a writer. I was faring well in the corporate world and life was gaining momentum. I reasoned that if I was destined to be a writer, I would have been able to finish my book within three years.
The funny thing about passion is that it isn’t always productive. I’ve always liked writing but wasn’t always good at it. Not in a literary sense but literally. I had plenty of stories just not the means to actually put them on paper. Dyslexia coupled with a poor early education left me ill equipped to produce anything consumable, or at least that is what I told myself.
Then two years ago I decided to add “publish a book” on my goals list for the year. After procrastinating a fair amount, I got to work and wrote every day for about three months. I reached out to other writers and followed their advice on how to prevent writer’s block and write in a suitable format for publication. I utilized technology to overcome my spelling deficiencies and then one day I was done.
Publishing was not something I thought long or hard about. I sent it to exactly one publisher who promptly rejected it. I asked why and they explained to me what it was that they didn’t like so I deleted a few scenes without compromising my vision and resubmitted it the next week. Boom! They accepted it and I spent the next six months working with editors to get my book ready to sell to the masses.
However, my ego has shrunk into insecurity since my first attempt at writing a book and I found myself unwilling to self-promote or even discuss publicly that I was going to have a book published. I told myself that I reached my goal of publishing a book and that was all I needed to do to feel validated as a writer. I was wrong.
In preparation for my book becoming available for public consumption, I started this blog. I was surprised by how difficult it was to write and share my thoughts with the masses. Even as my book had passed the point of no return, I resisted sharing details. A part of me had wished that I had published anonymously.
Last year I wrote “Become a professional writer” on my goal list. The first thing I did in preparation was quit my job under the premise that if I had no income, I’d be more motivated to make a living off my writing. Then I focused on defining myself as a writer and “author” which is proving more difficult than I anticipated.
When I think of Seneca’s words in today’s quote, I cannot ignore the power of declaration in defining oneself. Until I declared I was going to write a book, I could not write a book. Being singularly focused on the publication of said book was helpful in becoming an author but not necessarily helpful in becoming a professional writer.
Seven months into my journey of becoming a “professional writer” it is clear that I am work in progress. I still don’t want to talk about my book or blog and twice in the last week found myself literally saying to the person I was speaking to that they didn’t “have to” buy my book when asked where it was sold.
Despite several wonderful reviews of my book, I am stuck on the two people that said it gave them nightmares. A younger me would have easily taken this as a compliment and proof of my ability to provoke an emotional response. My middle-aged self is uncomfortable with making other people uncomfortable even when it is required to consume the story as I intended.
Today, I share my struggles as a writer as a narrative to my inner self. I will strive to remember that having a destination is integral in beginning any journey, but the magic is in the transformation. What I’m coming to find is that accepting this transformation into becoming a professional writer is proportional to my willingness to be transparent along the way.