I haven’t written anything in a while. I’ve been feeling the peculiar feeling of being lost before I’ve even begun. Does that make sense? I couldn’t make much sense of it until a dear friend of mine gifted me The Short Stories by Ernest Hemingway. As I read The Snows of Kilimanjaro, this quote stood out to me:
“But, in yourself, you said that you would write… But he would never do it, because each day of not writing, of comfort, of being that which he despised, dulled his ability and softened his will to work so that, finally, he did no work at all.”
This quote resonated with me because it scared me. It’s about a writer who stopped writing because he got too comfortable in life. What struck me even more was this quote that came from his deathbed:
“Now he would never write the things that he had saved to write until he knew enough to write them well. Well, he would not have to fail at trying to write them either. Maybe you could never write them, and that was why you put them off and delayed the starting.”
Fear of failure is a real thing, but how can you justify being afraid of failure if you never give yourself the chance to fail? I’ve determined that I’m not afraid of what other people will say. I’m afraid of what I won’t say – because I lack the courage to.
I once had a nightmare I was at a convention. Painters, musicians, photographers, dancers, and writers were all there, showing off their talents. I had a table that held my writings. But everyone there just passed me by. I started feeling very small, watching everyone laugh and cry at the other creations. Then someone came up to me, and told me I was wasting my time being there. Writing isn’t visual, and it isn’t audial. It’s not easy to consume. Who wants to take the time to read when there’s paintings and songs that can make you feel the same thing quicker?
I didn’t know what to say. I thought they were right, and I woke up feeling very sick inside. It’s been a fear I’ve carried around ever since. How do I entice people to read something that will be worth their while?
But all art is not, and should not be, purely for ease. Ease is entertainment. We are a culture of great ease. But writing goes further than entertainment. It has to, because it requires more attention and commitment. You open a book because you’re looking for something. Not something specific, but something that you can work with, something you can pick apart and put back together in your own way. It’s more than a new meaning. It’s a new feeling.
Some of my best creations have come out of times of intense discomfort, because they produced intense thoughts and feelings. Instead of getting comfortable in fear, and worrying about form, strategy, and marketing, I had to remind myself that the form will come. The most important thing is to simply create. So, if you’ve stuck with me long enough to read this next part, I’d like to announce a new project I’ve committed myself to. It’s called “Thoughts on a Plane.”
“Thoughts on a Plane” began on an airplane, contemplating the world below. Since then, it has become every deep, meaningful conversation I’ve had. The plan is to take note of what was said, analyze it, explore it, and simply share it. It’s not to be about anything specific, only observations, ideas, insights,and theories. It’s about the things we talk about that move us to higher planes.