I want to give up.
Give up this wretched dream of becoming “a writer”. Whatever that means. I want to proclaim, definitively, “I’m a failure” and get the whole exercise in futility off my chest.
The feeling comes and goes.
Some days I’m standing on the edge, my toes hanging over the side, the white heat of desperation urging me forward. I can’t do this. I’ll never do this. I’m a fool to even try. Throw yourself over, throw it all away, just give up already.
Some days I’m a few feet back from the edge, studying the matter more academically. Considering the benefits and drawbacks. Arguing with myself. I’m able to point out my strengths as well as my weaknesses. I know the ground is littered with the bodies of those who jumped, and that just because they gave up doesn’t mean I have to. I know that persistence is the greater part of success. Although raw talent is certainly important, too, and I begin to doubt mine.
Some days I’m not even aware of the edge. I’m ready to keep climbing, to keep trying. I’m bold and confident and I give no thought to my failures. Not only that, I see no failures: I see steps on the path, rocks I scrambled over to get where I am now. All part of the climb. I feel happy and positive and I am at my most productive. I can do this.
The feeling comes and goes.
But when I’m teetering on the edge with nothing but emptiness in front of me, my heart skipping beats in anticipation of the fall, I begin to grow weary. I begin to think this edge is a precarious place to spend my life.
I begin to think that maybe, despite all evidence to the contrary, I would be happier in a “normal” job. With a boss and daily tasks and not so much of my personal worth riding on every word I write.
Every word I write.
On the edge I can catalogue them all and I know they’re all failures: my posts go unread, my articles – few that there are – never go viral, my book is utter drivel. I receive no accolades, I win no prizes, I’ll never get published.
Writing is lonely. I feel isolated, left out. My attempts at connection fail. I’m not part of the in-crowd; I never have been and I never will be. I think, in clearer moments, that there are many on the edge. But we’re not here together: we are all stuck in our own personal writing miseries. Unable to reach out the few feet to touch a fellow climber, to help her, to pull her back from the edge.
I don’t want to say these things. I want to look for the positive, rather than focusing on the negative. I want my words to be hopeful rather than despairing. But sometimes the words build up inside and you have to write them down.
And that, I think, is the truth of it.
I want to give up. But I couldn’t even if I tried.
There is no edge. I dreamt it up to add drama, to bring visual depth to my emotional state, to make the choice seem real. But the truth is, there’s nowhere to jump.
Even if I “quit” the words would still be here. They would still dance in my mind, flirting and wooing, forming phrases and sentences that fit together like the interlocked fingers of lovers. I would still have to write them down, to stop them from playing over and over again in my head like an old record that never stops spinning. I would still have to write them down to set them free.
Even if I “quit” and did something else instead, the words would still be here.
There is no “wretched dream of becoming a writer”. I’m already here. That’s what it means to stand on this edge. To make this climb. And I can’t jump.
I am a writer.