I woke up this morning and I wanted to write. But there was work to do—flies to test, data to analyze, flies to collect, flies to flip into new fly homes. All day, I was showered with ideas for blog posts—an article here, a reminder there. All day long, that urge to write burned inside me, impatient, hungry, eager, sharp. My unfinished blog post sat taunting me, begging me, “When are you going to finish me?” And I had to keep saying, “Not yet, not yet. I must work. I must focus. Eyes on the prize.”
That’s how writing is for me. So rarely is my writing able to climb to the top of the to-do list that I feel somewhat like a fraud—do I dare call myself a writer? Wouldn’t a real writer rise early in the morning to put words on a blank screen? Meanwhile, I had a leisurely morning of oatmeal-eating and coffee-sipping, showering and readying myself for the day. Why doesn’t my hunger for writing jolt me awake at 6 AM, demanding to be satiated? It’s only after I’m caffeinated, commuted, and ready to start my work day that my mind zeroes in on the work that I am not paid to do, the work that remains a labor of love. Certainly it’s not a stretch to call blogging work, right? It takes dedication, effort, concentration, and sometimes research to produce content.
My writing is done in my free time or in stolen moments. Sometimes I cannot ignore the hunger, and I sit myself down to pour words into sentences. I wonder if I should spend more of my time on income-generating activities, but my hunger refuses to accept such nonsense. In my heart of hearts, I remain convinced that this writing thing is planning a future for me, somehow. On days like today when it takes me hours to finally sit down and write, my passion for words, ideas, learning, and connecting the dots burns bright and clear. I am buzzing with the love of this craft, this blog, this way in which I myself feel transformed into lovely, lovely words. I could float away on the wings of this crazy art that occupies so much of my waking life.
This evening, before leaving work, I received an e-mail from The Chronicle telling me that they were rejecting my piece. I am weirdly elated by this news, as rejection is something that real writers get to experience! I laugh and know that I am way too high on writing to be anything but delighted by rejection. “I’ll just self-publish it,” I tell a friend. And I will.
Because the joy in writing is not to be found in someone else’s approval of your words. It is found in those buzzing, passionate moments when you float away on a cloud of ideas. We write because we simply cannot help ourselves. Timidity and fearfulness just will not do if our goal is to spin something from nothing, which is why it’s always easier to be the critic than it is to be the writer. I consider myself very lucky that I get to do both, and this blog is the magic carpet ride that makes most of that possible.