Why Is This So #@%$ Difficult?

I’m pretty sure the last time I posted anything here was on my birthday … which was April 7. I’m sure you don’t need me to explain that adds up to a little over a month of no new blog time.

If I wanted to, I could pick any number of very good excuses as to why I haven’t written anything in a while. I have some family members going through tough times right now. I went on vacation for a week. I’ve been spending too much time playing games on Facebook. My job is causing me some stress lately. And on and on and on…

In reality, though, there just hasn’t been a whole lot I’ve wanted to write about lately. For most folks who use blogs as casual outlets to express random thoughts and experiences, this wouldn’t be much of an issue. For someone who kind of views writing as the only even somewhat useful skill he possesses, well, that adds up to a pretty significant problem.

I’ve heard that in times such as these writers have turned to some unlikely sources for inspiration. A lack of interesting topics certainly hasn’t been an issue. I’ve seen The Avengers (twice), my oldest daughter just turned 10, the NBA playoffs are going on, Barack Obama’s endorsing gay marriage, I’m reading a really great book titled “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” by Susan Cain … so it’s not as if the well was dry when it came to ideas. As most of us know, though, inspiration and opportunity are often miles apart.

Since this is actually my third pass at trying to write even this post, I figured I needed to think outside of the box a little bit, so I tried to remember stories of others who have felt the unrelenting tug of feeling as if they have to write, even if that desire does not seem make much logical sense in the grand scheme of things. And, of course, since my mind is really nothing but a landfill of useless pop culture factoids and totally irrelevant trivia fodder, I found my inspiration in … John-Boy Walton?

To be perfectly honest, I remember nothing of The Waltons TV shoe except that thing they did at the end of every episode where you would see the exterior shot of the house and hear them all telling each other good night. I couldn’t tell you what a single episode was about, and I probably couldn’t name any other character outside of the aforementioned John-Boy. I did remember someone at church one time telling me, though, that John-Boy always felt like he had to be a writer, even if the environment he was being brought up wouldn’t seem to suggest that as a logical career path.

As a result, I decided to head to the Internet and see if I could find some quotes from The Waltons that dealt with John-Boys dilemma. Surprisingly (to me, anyway), there was no shortage of inspiration to be found in the plight of the eldest Walton son. Take this quote from John-Boy himself, for example: “Things stay in my mind I can’t forget anything, and it all get’s bottled up in here and sometimes I feel like a crazy man. I can’t rest or sleep or anything until I rush up here and write it down in that tablet. Sometimes I think I really am crazy.”

I can totally identify with that statement – especially the “crazy” part.

It’s not enough, though, just to realize you have this weird, unconventional desire in you; you occasionally also must rouse yourself to some type of action. After all, John-Boy (Wikipedia informs me) eventually became a novelist and journalist, which, in turn, left me searching for the answer to the following question: How come John-Boy had such a burning desire to be a writer that it, literally, wouldn’t leave him alone, but I can’t even seem to motivate myself to update my blog site regularly?

The obvious answer to that question can be summed up in one word – effort. Take the words of John Walton (John-Boy’s father) to heart here: “I don’t know a thing about the writing trade, son. But if you wanna take it up, you gotta give it your best.” This obviously appeals to the part of me (and pretty much anyone alive) which says, “You need to try harder. You can’t quit. If you want to make it happen, you’ve got to dedicate yourself to it entirely.”

All of those American-isms are definitely true when it comes to putting out maximum effort. I think John-Boy stumbled onto something deeper than simple exertion, though; he managed to make the connection between who he was created to be and how that person fit into the world around him. I’ve written in this space before about how difficult it is for me to view writing – creative writing, in particular – as bona fide work. It doesn’t feel to me like I’m providing enough of a service in “the real world.” John-Boy realized “the real world” could not function without whatever words he had stored up inside that brain of his. He made the connection between calling and necessity to follow it.

So why the $%#@* can’t I make the same connection?

That’s the philosophical question I’ll be wrestling with in the background. In the meantime, expect the various rambling emanating from this corner of the Internet to increase in their frequency. I guess this my tablet for the moment. Might as well fill it up.

Good night, John-Boy…

2 thoughts on “Why Is This So #@%$ Difficult?

  1. Best of luck. I find it is literally just down to sitting in that seat and making yourself bang the words out. Rain or shine, inspiration or no. It’s easier said than done, but after a while it becomes habit – after a two-month hiatus over Christmas and New Year, I’ve written every day for nearly four months. You can too!

  2. I have been thinking the same sort of thoughts lately. Here I am, 32 years old, and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

    Then it dawned on me that I’ve always wanted to be a writer–that’s pretty much been the only thing I’ve ever wanted to be, since I was in 6th grade–but I’ve always been told that I can’t make a living doing that, or that I’ll end up a “starving artist.” The scorn and ridicule of my classmates in creative writing classes (never write fantasy or vampire stuff and then show it to English Lit majors) broke me down to the point that I convinced myself I could never be a writer.

    I didn’t write any fiction for 9 years after I left college.

    Then one day–when I was unemployed and depressed and had nothing better to do–I took up the National Novel Writing Month challenge.

    And magic happened.

    One, I turned out a novel that I’m proud of. While I may never make any money off of it, come November, I’m going public with it and it will, after 15 years, finally be out of my brain.

    And two, I got a serious high from writing. I started thinking up other things to write–historical romance and short stories and things I’d never even thought about doing before–not to mention blogging. Suddenly, I can’t write fast enough to get all of it out of my brain; I have a backlog (and a publishing schedule, just in novels, stretching 5 years into the future).

    While I can’t give up my day job at the moment (or anytime in the foreseeable future), I’m coming to the realization that I can’t NOT be a writer. Success or failure (however you want to define either of those terms) is of no consequence: all that matters is making the best of me available.

    The idea that you have to be something–that you were *destined* to be something–got me to thinking about God-given talent the other day (http://keripeardon.wordpress.com/2012/05/22/a-god-given-talent/). I specifically talk about why even seemingly menial occupations (housekeeper, mechanic, vampire fiction writer) could very well have a substantial impact on humanity.

    Also, spend 20 minutes watching (or just listening) to this video: http://anniecardi.com/2012/05/22/make-good-art-and-other-thoughts-from-neil-gaiman/ I don’t think you will be sorry you did.

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