I am learning as I go- in life in general, and in the life of writing- that you really need to develop the ability to laugh at yourself along with the ability to make mistakes.
Mistakes are the gateway for figuring out how to do things differently and laughter the balm that reminds us not to ever take anything too seriously including ourselves.
Back in 2013 when I had my first piece published, an article on self-love, I had a heady sense of arrival, community, and expectation. This is what real writers do, right? We write stuff and publish it! Therefore, I am a writer!
But what I found is that publishing that article didn’t really make me feel like a writer, and it didn’t make me feel like part of a writing community. Instead I felt vulnerable, exposed, and I still had a sense of being an outsider. The next few things I wrote were rejected by multiple sites and publications; I learned new lessons on handling failure…
And I learned to keep writing. A lot of those words were posted on my blog. Some of them scraped themselves together into a few more articles that were accepted- it was just enough encouragement to help me keep going. I scribbled in journals and notebooks and whenever I could. I blogged some more. I got a little better.
During this time, I never really gained a lot of followers or external validation that my work was worthwhile, but I kept on writing anyway.
And that I think is really the crux, the heart and soul, of being a “writer.”
You have to learn to keep on writing. Learn to believe in your own vision of self and your vision of your work. Learn to accept rejection and learn to improve. Learn to shake your head with fond humor over your expectations of what you thought this process would look like verses what it actually looks like.
Learn to shake your head at your self- that mercurial being who can be our best friend or our worst enemy, our biggest architect of inspiration or our biggest underminer, our generator of creativity or our circuit breaker who switches off our innate light.
Learn that just like in life- our ups and downs, our highs and lows, the whole messiness of the writing, creating, publication process- all of theses experiences are simply part of what it means to be human.
And therefore worth experiencing if we wish to be whole, authentic, real, and true.
Wherever we find ourselves in life, wherever we find ourselves in our personal process, wherever we find ourselves along our journeys- we are where we are supposed to be learning the things we need to learn.
I didn’t need to learn about popularity or easy success or finding an audience back when I published that article. I needed to learn to own my truth. I needed to learn perseverance. I needed to learn the strength one can find in vulnerability.
I needed to learn how to grow as a person, so I could keep growing as a writer.
Lessons that had little to do with external validation and more to do with teaching me how to be relentless in nourishing, supporting, and believing in myself.
We can’t always see the full picture- what we think we need and what life knows we need can be very different things. But we can work on trusting the process. Learn to never give up on our best, most beautiful visions of self. Then keep on breathing, keep on living, keep on writing. Anyway.