Back in the Habit

By December 13, 2011Lessons Learned, On Life, Stateside

It has been almost two months since I wrote a word. The pressure of what I have not done weighs on me like an exhaustion: an insomniac’s fitful, unattainable sleep. I have always said when I am not writing that something is wrong, that something must be changed in my life, and now I delve silent into the veracity of that statement.

I say I want to be a writer. I say that it is the one true passion in my life, and the truth of these things I do not doubt. But at what cost? The success of my blog, which if you are reading this right now you are one of the few who even know of its existence, seems to be at a cost too great. The marketability, or lack thereof, of my winding, verbose narratives was made clear to me as soon as I began trying to turn my passion into a paycheck. In order to make money your posts must be short and searchable. “The Top Ten Things Every Traveler Needs in Their Backpack.” Post these three times a week, spend your life self-promoting on twitter, following and commenting on every other blog you can find in the hopes that they might follow you back and maybe you’ll make enough to get by. Was it so crazy of me to want people to read my work on its merits alone, to be moved by my words and not motivated in the midst of some incestuous community of half-successes?

But if my writing cannot make a successful blog, if my stories are meant to be enclosed cover to cover then why have I made no effort? Three books started, hundreds of thousands of words lie like decaying carrion in journals and hard-drives around my room and I haven’t once tried to sew them all together, to breathe life back into them. If this is the only way I can turn a passion into a living, what is wrong with me to forgo even trying? I fight admitting the weakness to which I can no longer feign ignorance. I would rather never try and never fail than to know I was never good enough in the first place.

Sobless tears start winding down my face as I realize this whole dream has been nothing but a mirage wavering in the distance. And the closer I get, the faster it vanishes into nothing but heat-hazed dust. I could be a writer, I could make money writing what someone else wants me to write, but I refuse to compromise a modicum of who I am. I want my words to live in the honesty of writing for nothing, for no one but myself. And those words just aren’t good enough. The tears tumble as fast as the stones of my defenses are crumbling. I am nothing but a lie.

I have been working so much these days, I say. I will start writing again when I get to Colombia. I will paste together these books from everything I made so far and my story will be an arching overture of life and love, a monumental call to the humanity in all of us, it will change the life of everyone who reads it. But in reality I see only an aged waitress in my future, embittered toward the people she once loved to garrulously entertain. The last happy server turned to stone like all the rest in the wrinkled surrender of twenty years on her feet and nothing to show for it.

But these days I am still young. I smile and laugh as large as the bar and sell whiskeys with as much vigor as I drink them. I save my money for the next adventure and don’t think most days about the decades ahead, of failures not yet set into stone. I may still write that book just to watch it never get published. I will try to silence the voice that tells me it will never matter. That it will never be good enough as I struggle to stay afloat in an ocean of those more talented than I, who are better weathering the winds of rejection. Just maybe.

So what has the reluctant honesty of this self-pitying soliloquy produced for me? What good will come from admitting the one thing no one with a mediocre talent at a great passion ever wants to utter aloud? Absolutely fucking nothing. But at least I’m back in the habit of writing again.

9 Comments

  • Christian says:

    Honesty with yourself is the rarest type of courage.

    Best part: ” But at least I’m back in the habit of writing again.”

  • Nadia says:

    Keep on writing lady, because you sure know how to have your way with words. These times of uncertainty are sometimes the best I’ve come to realise. It sounds like you’re in a productive space because you know what you do and don’t like; you know what you won’t compromise on and that hopefully will lead you to where you should be. Keep on fighting and writing ^^
    Nadia recently posted…Korea: surviving in the classroomMy Profile

  • Nadia says:

    Bah! Just realised this is an old post! Well then! Hahaha… hopefully my thoughts fit in with your current situation too 🙂
    Nadia recently posted…Korea: surviving in the classroomMy Profile

  • Charisse says:

    I hope you are still in the habit of writing. Don’t give up! I think most artistic people loose their muse now and again. The motivated ones will fight to find it again. Inspiration comes in the most odd places.

    I’ve written something similar where insomnia sets in and I just have to write about it.
    I am by no means a great one and I can’t imagine if I’ll ever be on the same caliber as you are on, but it’s not my passion. I write good (I meant well) enough to be coherant and hope that my verb tense is correct, as well as spelling.

    Your adventures will be fuel for your writing. Youth is on your side and you know what they say about artists, you will may never reach the summit of your succes until you have passed from this world. Herman Melville who wrote “Moby Dick” died and his obituarity stated that his first name was Henry. He was unknown and forgettable that they didn’t even have his first name correct. Not until much later did the world discover his masterpiece. It’s a shame really, he died never knowing his was able to achieve his dream.

    I look forward to more from your blog and the evolution your writing takes. This was personal and heart felt and it was nice of you to share a piece of yourself with us.

    • Taylor says:

      Charisse, Thank you so much for the heartfelt response! I wrote this post a couple years ago when I was in a slump, and as I’m heading back to America for the next year I’m really hoping I don’t get stuck in the same place. It’s a natural thing that happens to writers I guess, and in resharing I’m hoping maybe other people can relate to it. The last two years I’ve been writing a lot more regularly and it feels a lot better. Though I still haven’t gotten around to finishing any of those books I started…

  • Duke Stewart says:

    You know I appreciate what you write so I’ll try to spare you on the ass-kissing for today. Seriously though, keep writing.

    I spent 5-10 minutes reading this and then had to read it again. Far better than any listicle, how-to, or go here see this I’ve come across on any given day. Sure, it’s good to stick to your morals but sometimes getting paid does mean bending those very laws you created.

    You’re right, that blogging for money is an uphill battle. There are ways to make ends meet and still stick to what you love here. But most importantly, I’m happy that you are back in the habit.

    Ok, so I couldn’t go without brown-nosing. Sue me. 🙂
    Duke Stewart recently posted…The Philippines, Bohol On Two WheelsMy Profile

  • Katie says:

    Hey Taylor,

    I realize this was written over three years ago, and I am wondering what is still true about your feelings? Have things changed a bit for you, or are you re-sharing this because they haven’t changed?!

    You are right that short posts in list form are what people read, and is what I feel like I post way too often. I have been keeping a collection of long form narrative writing for the day when I put it in a book.

    Cheers,
    Katie
    Katie recently posted…4 Ways to Have an Active Cancun VacationMy Profile

    • Taylor says:

      Hey Katie,

      I reposted it because I definitely still feel this way sometimes. I am writing a lot more these days and much of it is not what I truly love to write. In fact I haven’t touched my book in over 18 months because I’m so busy writing things that either pay the bills or might pay the bills in the future. To me it often seems like a choice: write for work or write what you love, but most people aren’t lucky enough to get to do both. I thought in posting that piece, some other people might be able to relate. And yeah, I’ve sold my soul a little too since then. I guess it’s just what has to be done. Keep saving those narratives though!

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