I want to write every day.
But I don't.
I noticed the feeling again this morning. The little bit of nagging that sat with me on my back porch and whined like my dog who would prefer I share the comfy wicker chair with the green cushions.
Why don't I write everyday?
Today my daughter was working on a project, and she said she had to stop right in the middle of it because a story idea came to her. She got a piece of paper and quickly jotted down notes to herself so she wouldn't forget. Later she showed it to me and said, "I have the perfect story, and I am going to write the whole thing, from beginning to end. I know I can do it because it is about something I love and it isn't a long chapter book this time."
*Side note: Ever since meeting a published young adult author at the end of the school year, she has been struggling with "finishing" her own written book. She gets super excited with an idea, but then loses enthusiasm for the story before it is complete. This time would be different, she was telling me.
She got a clipboard and paper and a pencil. She mentioned sheep and the moon, and it was really sounding delightful. That's when it hit her - "What am I going to do with this story when I am done?"
"Maybe," she said, "This will be like my gingerbread man story, and I will save my money to have it printed like you print your Zine. But no," she paused. "No, I want it to be a real book. I want people to be able to get it at the library. Tell me again what you have to do to get a book published?"
So we talked it through again - Me, the bruised adult with a sour taste still on the back of my tongue from my own publishing journey, and her with a tender heart and a wild imagination and a strong story and a childhood capacity for dreaming the impossible. I didn't want to have this conversation because I knew from experience that she wanted details and a checklist and connections and a signed book contract in her hands by the end of the hour. And I knew I didn't have the energy or the passion or the umph for any of it, and yet I am her momma, who wants it all for her and more. How do you say the book contract isn't the point? How do you say the published book wasn't all it was cracked up to be? How do you say, maybe it'll be different for you, but I don't know how? How do you say, you can go your own way, and it might be best to?
After saying a lot of things, largely about marketing, she surmised she would never be a published author and not only that, but she would never write again. I surmised I would make a horrible writing coach because while I believe in her, I just don't believe in the system anymore.
So I gave her options. "Write the story," I said. "Write the perfect, wonderful story that you already know the beginning and middle and end to. Draw the cover, the cover you already see in your head. Write it all from start to finish because it made you so happy to think of it, and then, then we'll figure out what to do with it. Maybe we'll send copies to your friends. Maybe we'll print out a real hardback book because there are companies that do that. Maybe you can create a blog and share it on there."
"I'm never writing again! I TOLD YOU!" She was fuming, looking down and avoiding eye contact like she does when she's uncomfortable. All I could think about was how I very much would like to hear a story about sheep on the moon. I wanted to hear it more than anything.
After we spoke, with nothing close to a resolution, I got to thinking about how I want to write every day, but I don't.
Why don't I write every day?
Because just like my daughter was insisting, it seems pointless. No matter how much I honor the practice of showing up and throwing down words, there is nothing to "do" with the words once they're written. No formal, approved place for them to be gathered. No guaranteed massive audience vying for the next edition. No certificate of completion. No plaque of achievement. No dewey decimal system stamping its approval. No book signings, speaking gigs, flooded emails asking for more, more, more where that came from. There is often, at initial creation, merely me and my crickets, chirping a lonely, vulnerable song of "Is what I have created enough?" "Will it touch anyone?" "Will it matter?" "Will it make a wave? Hell, will it even make a ripple? Do I like it? Am I glad I did it? Did I expose too much of myself?"
A few hours after the conversation, as I sat down to write this post, my daughter brought me a piece of paper. On it she had drawn the cover of her book. The title read "Great Sheep Goes to the Moon." She showed me what she had written so far and said, "Yes, I think I do want to research how to self-publish a book. I want a book with a hard cover and glossy pages." My heart felt both overjoyed and achey. I was delighted she was creating the book; I was shaky that there were still no guarantees for all her expectations. I can't own her dream...I can barely own mine.
What even is my dream?
Oh yeah, to write, every day. To write and satisfy my artist's heart that feels so very sad when it is not expressing itself in regards to my living. It is a trade-off because I know I will be disappointing my reasoning mind. Reason wants proof and numbers and whys and wherefores and packages and deadlines and notoriety and a hefty definition of success. Just like my daughter, I can't give it anything anymore.
I can just say, simply and softly, "Oh how I miss writing the words."
The Mad One