“You can’t be afraid to deal with your demons. You’ve got to go there to be able to write.” Lucinda Williams
When I was a high school student I walked to school every day. I walked with a good friend of mine after meeting him in front of his house. During our walk we talked about the kinds of things all kids talk about, homework, movies, girls. I was a bit of a nerd so we talked about science fiction more than we talked about girls. One day I told him the idea for a short story that I had.
I gave him the details as we walked through the neighborhood. I can still remember how excited I was. He made some comments as I started. As I got further into the story he stopped commenting. A few minutes before arriving at school I got to the the surprise ending. I felt so satisfied and waited for the praise that was sure to come. He responded with something like, “You know, I’ve read that story.”
Shame washed over me. My story wasn’t my story at all. I had just repeated the plot of something I had read. Said it was mine. And I wasn’t expecting to be called out. Talk about not looking ahead. I mean it was obvious wasn’t it? Where the heck did I think I was going with this? Whatever words I said in response are long forgotten. We walked into school and went to our classes.
I still think about that day sometimes. It bothers me. It’s not just the obvious shame and embarrassment of being caught lying. It’s something more. I was caught stealing. I felt like a thief. It wasn’t a good feeling. I never want to feel anything like that again.
I wanted the results without making any effort. I wanted to be able to say that I had written a story. I wanted all the glory without putting in any work.
The work. Taking an idea and turning it into a first draft. Making new discoveries and connections by editing a first draft. Finishing it. The sense of satisfaction after finishing. Moving on to the next idea without hesitation. Now that is a great feeling. I’d like to think that I learned something. Because what I know now is that the reward comes from doing the work. I can’t wait to get started on the next idea.
Next: The Bird Skull and Gaining Confidence