We are all touched.
The fickle finger of fate bestows on us through random chance a series of affinities, of likes and dislikes, of urges, of callings. I’m going to wager that, if you’re reading this, you’re called in some way to write, to tell stories. And that’s magical.
Not everybody has such a calling. Most people don’t. Everybody thinks they can write a novel, or a screenplay, or a memoir about their “amazing” life, but they can’t. Or, more importantly, they won’t. Writing is a lot of work, after all, and pretty thankless work at that (and that’s coming from a high school English teacher … I’m an authority on thankless work). And without the spark, without the calling, without the need in your bones to work at your writing, to learn how to tell a story, to sit in front of the screen for hours and days and months on end, writing becomes as impossible as flying a manned mission to Jupiter.
The calling makes it sufferable. The calling makes it possible to grind out the time in solitude, knowing that writing is not just something we do to pass the time; it’s an investment, if not in future windfalls and book deals and legions of adoring fans, then in the self. The writer is at peace when he writes; perhaps not outwardly (because some writers certainly do suffer with their product, and I’m no exception), but some small piece of the writer’s soul is only quiet when he practices his craft. Some ever-screaming facet of the self will only cease its torment when it’s given rein and allowed to stretch its legs once in a while.
Problem is, we don’t want to believe the calling. It’s all too easy to think I shouldn’t be doing this, or this is a waste of my time, or somebody else could do this so much better than me. And the subproblem is that on some level, those doubts are true. There are probably more immediately productive things we could be doing. It may, in fact, be a waste of our time. There are almost certainly others doing what we’re doing better than we’re doing it. That’s how the Howler Monkey of Doubt works — it takes something that’s true in one way and screeches at us until we believe it’s true in all ways.
But the fact is, we should be doing this. There are seven billion people in the world, and they need to hear our stories — that’s why we invented language, after all. This isn’t a waste of our time — on the contrary, writing makes us better people. We learn more thoroughly what we truly think about things, we exorcise the demons of doubt and exercise our grey matter. And, sure, okay, somebody else might be better at doing what we do than we are — but that’s true for all disciplines, and it only changes if we work at what we do.
The truth is that the world needs storytellers, even if we think it’s saturated with them. If we have stories to tell, the world has audiences waiting to hear them — my crappy little middle-of-nowhere blog is a perfect example. Here I do nothing but blather on about whatever’s in my head, and somehow I’ve attracted almost 400 followers, and I even have some who read my work (and I even laugh at calling it “work”) almost every day. This makes me confident that when my novel is finished, though the likelihood is that it will land with a whimper rather than a mushroom cloud, it will find readers. It’ll find fans. The story I’m telling is the perfect one for somebody out there; for somebody, it’s exactly the story they need to hear.
Fate’s fickle finger touches us all differently. (Yeah, that sounded wrong.)
To embrace what the finger gives us (did it again) is to embrace who we are.
This weekly remotivational post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Every weekend, I use Linda G. Hill’s prompt to refocus my efforts and evaluate my process, sometimes with productive results.