Nobody Cares and Other Truths I Learned During My Two Years of Writing
This week marks two years of showing up, sitting down and writing–everyday.
Some days I pumped out thousands of words. On others, I farted a few foul sentences and went about my day.
But such is the writing life.
When I first committed to writing, I held a secret position that green writers often hold– I wanted everyone to care about my writing as much as I did.
Whether it’s writing a book or losing 20 pounds we want people to acknowledge our efforts with a smile, a hug and the coveted big blue Facebook thumb.
When I launched my website I wanted people to stop what they were doing and care. I wanted people to read and be inspired. I wanted invitations to guest speak at conferences and wanted strangers to approach me with a nervous smile, offer a compliment and ask for a picture.
But the novice is almost always too vain for their own good.
The novice falls in love with their own fiction. A love affair that, if it doesn’t end in divorce, will certainly pin them to a barstool or a therapist’s couch or sometimes both for quite a while.
Here’s What I’ve Learned
I’ve learned writers are architects.
We want people to slow down, take pictures, tell their friends and admire what we’ve built, brick by brick, word by word.
We want recognition for our ability to craft stories and mortar ideas that stretch into the sky and, if the timing is right, throw some cool shade across the world.
I’ve learned that every subject has already been written about by writers much more talented than myself.
I’ve learned that the novice would rather dream than work. The novice wants achieve maximum results for minimum effort.
There are three phases of the writer: novice, intermediate and professional.
I’m not a professional. Stephen King and Annie Lamont are professionals. They can offer insight on how to gain access to the heavily guarded compound where the professionals work.
However, I’ve graduated from novice to intermediate. My finely matted diploma marred with failures, doubt, fear and marginal successes proves I’m now qualified to reflect on my education.
If you’re thinking of pursuing a writer’s life or striding into the gym later today, here’s the hard truth– nobody cares.
This is not to demean or passively-aggressively guilt you into caring.
The novice writer thinks everybody cares. The intermediate writer writes as if nobody cares.
The novice writes for attention. The intermediate writes for herself.
The novice writer writes when she’s inspired. The intermediate writes until she’s inspired.
Though she does appreciate them, the intermediate doesn’t write for blue thumbs. She likes praise but knows how dangerous it is to weave definitions from the threads of praise.
The intermediate enjoys the strain of the workout. A gym rat. A library mouse.
The intermediate pumps out 3,000 crappy words just to find 500 good words.
The intermediate is busy learning about truth and doesn’t realize that by learning her own truths she’s helping others discover their own.
The intermediate knows that even though writing is a vanity project– meaningful, enduring writing is always about the reader and always laced humility, sincerity and vulnerability.
She knows that other writers are scratching out posts, articles and books faster than she can and she doesn’t care. When she was a novice she stewed with jealousy. She’s now genuinely happy for other people’s accomplishments, but remains focused on her own goals.
And the intermediate knows there are miles of untraveled truths that need visiting before she can even pull into the parking lot where the professionals work.
This post marks two years of writing everyday and publishing a piece at least once a week.
Tonight, I’ll celebrate with a cold beer and some Charles Dickens. And then, when the 14.9 ounces of self-adoration ends, I will quietly return to my computer write again–as if nobody cares.
PS–Thank you to everyone who has made the journey with me over the years. Thank you to anyone who has shared my work, offered a line of support or gifted me a big blue Facebook thumb. Thank you for welcoming my writing into your life.