It always happens. Without fail. At some point in the process, whether I'm finding errors in the proof or dropping my most honest work yet into paper envelopes and metal slots, I ask myself the question.
Why am I doing this again? Why, when I could just be a mom and watch the legs grow long and the days shorten? Why, when I could just be a reader, and let someone else do the hard work of telling the truth and spreading the word?
These are good questions, especially now that I see them spelled out in plain print. They're important ones, too, because the reason why we make the things we do, well it's like the soil they grow in. If it's something organic or something toxic, it affects the fruit. The fruit of toxic motives may look good, waxed and shiny and bug-nibble-free, but when you really take a big bite, something tastes "off". On the other hand, creative work that comes from authenticity and courage just tastes like the real thing, and the audience knows it even if the critics refuse to be swayed.
I'll answer these questions in two posts (or maybe three). I'll probably answer them again down the road, if my answers change. I think it's good to begin by naming the reasons why I almost don't do it. (Don't you have your own list like this?) If I didn't do this work, it would be because of one or more of these things. These then are the things I do this in spite of. It is guaranteed to not be an exhaustive list.
- I could make more money doing practically anything else.
- Some members of my family don't share my experiences or point-of-view on family-related matters, and they have a concern that negative conclusions will be drawn about them if I tell my stories. If I didn't write, my family life wouldn't feel like such a mine field.
- Don't throw your pearls before swine. That's from the Bible, from my old days, and I could infer that the world won't appreciate the good things I give it--or, that it's my job to litmus test everyone first and only share my jewels with those who prove themselves worthy.
- Does the world really need more voices? Aren't there already more clamoring than we have the attention to hear?
- If I tell the truth (that is, write authentically), people may decide collectively, once and for all, that I am unlikeable. And have the evidence in their hands to prove it.
- Who do I think I am, to put my thoughts out there? Who certified my talent? What on earth makes me special enough to warrant this priviledge?
How are those for a start? So in case you were wondering, Yes, I have all those thoughts, too. I just don't give them much (or mostly, any) airtime. When I get caught in one, I have to pull it apart until I can see the failed reasoning underneath it. Like the last one. Of course I'm not special--none of us are in that being a human being is a very ordinary experience. Millions of people are doing it all over the globe right now, and have for a long time. Are we unique? Absolutely. Special? Nah. I don't think specialness is a criteria for having a platform. Doing good work? Now we're talking.
So there they are--the top reasons why I almost don't do what I do. If I think of more, I'll add them in the comments section. Of course, I'd love to hear yours. If something were to stop you, or hold you back, what would it be? Is something holding you back right now? I was brave and went first, now it's your turn--'fess up.