I initially wrote this monthís article as sort of a, "Gee everythingís great!" piece.
I think it's because I want to convince myself that Iíve conquered my fears about writing. But I havenít. I want to be a good writer, but donít know what that means. I don't feel Iím there yet. I want to write full-time, or in some way that completes me, for lack of a better word. And I am terrified by the fact that it may never happen.
Lately, I do everything under the auspices of "writer." And I know thatís a lot of egg to put in one basket (to say nothing of wiping off one's face).
The truth is, I am insecure. I second-guess my writing all the time, sometimes a little too obsessively. I have an ego and Iím often sorry for it. And I donít always follow my own advice. Like, I know Iíve said it before -- be honest when you write. Donít let your insecurities reek havoc in your head. To the degree it messes with your authenticity, people sense it.
So Iíve condensed and rewritten this article, and for what itís worth, and really tried to be truthful. Itís short, and it isnít full of useful advice about writing, but more an assessment of how spasmatic I am when I think too much about the concept.
* * *
Itís a shame. Growing up, people with real tangible writing talent surrounded me -- sister, mother, boyfriend, aunt, cousin. They were my platinum ruler, the distorted ideal I measured my worth against. In my mind, I was never as good or accomplished. And I held on to the belief so tight, it became a deep seeded insecurity that kept me from writing with any seriousness.
Then sometime later in life it struck me; my reasons for writing have nothing to do with being better, or even as good as other writers. And I donít have to be James Joyce to make it. So I started writing with greater determination, and fell in love something fierce. Every aspect of writing took up house inside my soul -- and this tight wordy yarn just suddenly unraveled inside my body.
Now I canít stop myself. The feeling I get, something akin to runnerís rush when Iím engrossed in writing -- itís an addiction.
When Iím away from my own novel too long, or rooted in a lawsuit more sinister than any mystery, it lingers. I feel it like the promise of triple-ply cashmere. Taste is like bits of bittersweet chocolate. No matter where I am, or what Iím doing I just want to get back to my baby.
After years of just plodding along, I finally know what I want with clarity.
But now that Iíve really dug in deep, I fear writing will never be more than the hour or so I manage to carve out between work and family. And thatís hard, because writing casts a Technicolor shadow over a good portion of my everyday life. Writing makes me hungry. It fully engages every little part of my heart and intellect. And when Iím not doing it, the deficiency feels physical.
Working a career that doesnít engage me as fervently as writing is a constant reminder that Iím still pinning for something just over the horizon. It's still far enough away Iím not sure itís real. My expectations have yet to morph into something definite. And I pray they do, because I canít imagine existing without the permanent rush that comes with authoring essays, books and short stories.
For now, despite my doubt and need for a little extrinsic validation, I will keep writing. I know better than to judge results by external worth only. I will keep writing, because I feel language the way I feel sex and love and life and wanting. Writing heightens my awareness of humankind and all things organic. And I am convinced I canít want something as bad as this unless Iím meant to have it.
So I am terrified, but still willing to leap into the indefinite. I just really donít want to hit bottom anytime soon, and sometimes wish life could toss me a parachute.
Jennifer Edelson is a Minnesota attorney and legal writing professor. Her writing has appeared on all the finest refrigerators in the Twin Cities. Jennifer can be emailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org