This has been happening to me lately. An overwhelming sense of belonging to some palpable nebula that exists in the world of stories. Those voices of other writers there, and mine. It's a curious sensation of knowing that what I do has value. It's important. It adds to that pool and keeps it fresh, forever callow-green and succulent and spicy like honeyed grasses at the break of summer. It's like a nest of ideas that spawns same lines of thought in different parts of the world. You know, like same things invented simultaneously on opposite continents because the idea happens to hatch in the same air above, in that collective wonder-space of our consciousness. And I belong. I belong there.
It has been my biggest struggle, this fight with my tiny slimy self-esteem that I have locked up in the cellar of my doubt that first time I was told that I was wrong and dumb and a liar (I was about 5, I think). I would try to pull it out and revive it, and it would slip through my fingers and, hissing and squinting at the light, crawl back into the comfort of loneliness and darkness. And I would have a bout of good old crying and a wave of self-pity would smother me and I would think, "Who do I think I am, to dare to write? I suck. I'm horrible. I should quit. I must get a job like normal respectable people." And I'd hear my horrid maimed self-esteem snigger and agree. Oh, how I hated those moments. Writing through them was torture.
Strangely, as of late, these episodes of anxiety and self-loathing and disgust and disbelief have almost ceased. I have noticed it a few months ago, and this week it came into a sharp focus, and I asked myself, "What the fuck happened?"
So I thought and thought and thought, and the answer came. You won't believe it. In fact, you will laugh when you read it. You know what gave me this stability to be audacious enough to float in the same sky as the masters (how dare I?)? Get ready for it.
Or, to clarify it a bit, reading, then writing and comparing my writing to what I read, then reading again, then writing again, and so on.
I was puzzled at first. I couldn't understand it. What changed? I've been reading books my whole life, since I was 4. I still felt like an idiot. What changed now?
I have started reading like a writer.
Some kind of a critical mass of stories has accumulated in my head, and I suddenly saw that they are not that different from my own stories. In fact, they're pretty much the same, about the need to love and to be loved and the struggle to get it. I mean, that's all we want from life, right? Why else is it worth living? But that wasn't new either. What was new was the true nature of stories that shine from underneath all that linguistically refined and exquisite parlance of one author or another. It was simply people, people like me, trying to show how much they felt. And I'm trying to do the same thing. Everyone does it their own way, and my way is valid. It's adding, not subtracting. It has to be told. It deserves to be told. It's worth to be listened to, to be read. In other words...
MY STORIES ARE WORTH TELLING.
This is so simple, and yet it has eluded me. Because of my fears. I thought it would come from just writing, but no, I felt it stronger and stronger assert itself after each book I read. There is a magic to it. It makes you weightless.
On May 15th it will be exactly 3 years since I started writing full time. It was the day I started working on the first draft of Siren Suicides. The concept for it has hatched years earlier, and I started and stopped working on it several times before on May 15th I finally decided to give it a try.
I'm thinking here...if 3 years got me to the place of believing in myself as a writer, where will 10 years get me? 20? 30? Surely I have 30 more years of life in me? I hope so. I don't know. I might die tomorrow. Life is cruel this way.
But I don't care. This odd new carelessness is making me foolishly happy. It's like it doesn't matter anymore what people will think or say. I will write the stories I want to write and they will be read because they are worth it. It floors me, this feeling. With it came new unexpected freedoms. I used to obsess over social media. What to post, where, when, how often, blah-blah-blah. Not anymore. The conniptions are gone. I'm as calm as a fucking penguin sitting on an egg and waiting for it to crack in the middle of a raging blizzard. Nothing bothers me. Well, I'd be lying if I said nothing ever bothers me. Things still do, but so little, they hardly touch me.
I want to thank all those authors who helped me get here. I know most likely none of them will read this post, but that is not the point. I am shouting it to the universe and I know the universe will deliver the message.
THANK YOU FOR SHOWING ME THE WAY.
THANK YOU FOR HOLDING MY HAND.
THANK YOU FOR TELLING ME WITH YOUR STORIES THAT I CAN DO IT TOO.
I'm doing it. I'm doing it! Look at me! (Here I want to jump up and down like that 5-year-old showing off her newly acquired skill of using a skip rope or climbing a tree or drawing a picture of a pregnant penguin.)
I want to do the same for you, for all of you who are still struggling to get out from that stinking shadow of fear. I will write my flat ass out for you, to hopefully give you a hand to hold on to. I have a long way to go to where I want to be, but I'm on my way. I'm getting there. I will get there. It's only a matter of time. And, guess what.
I WILL FUCKING DRAG YOU WITH ME.
If you always wanted to write a book and something is holding you back, now is the time to flip a finger to that something and do it. Write, then read, then write some more, then read some more. Get carried away by stories until you see yours taking shape. They will, I promise. I know.
If they won't, you have my permission to show up at my door, hurl invectives in my face, then march into my closet and steal all my tutus. Not enough? Okay, you can also have all my socks. Fine, my stash of vodka also.
Well then, all aboard? Let's get reading (and writing, of course, don't forget that.)