“I’m a writer,” I tell myself.
That’s true. It’s been true since that one monumental day in elementary school when I first set my bright orange pencil to lined paper and suddenly ended up with 50 pages. But sometimes it’s hard to believe it. It’s easy to let the grey, ever-so-murky waves of life swallow you.
I look at the notebook in front of me.
I’m a writer.
Yeah, okay. It’s just a composition book, the kind that most people toss into the dumpster after high school. Hey, call it a stack of dead trees if you want. But that’s not what it is to me. Not when there are so many ideas waiting inside it, like an anxious infant pushing its head out of the womb and discovering life for the first time.
I open the notebook. It’s tempting to read through all those previously scrawled on pages and lose myself in them. I resist.
I turn to the first blank sheet, page 133. No, the pages weren’t numbered when I bought the book. I numbered them myself – perhaps not the most productive hour of my life. I hold my breath. I take out my pen, set it on the paper…and stop.
I don’t know what to write.
It’s not that I’m lacking inspiration. It’s just that there’s a solid, concrete block standing in my way. There’s an inability to correctly articulate the ideas simmering inside me, no matter how real they seem. They say that every story is the ruination of a terrific idea. Is that true? Maybe. Probably. Almost definitely. No matter how much passion you pour into your story, no matter how successful you are or how many publications you rack up, it’s never enough. You always want more.
But what is “more,” and why is it so desirable?
When I picture the notebook in my head, I don’t see it as a stack of connected, equally-sized papers. I see it as a laughing monster. The space between both covers serves as a grinning mouth. Only through hard work can its cackling be silenced. Sometimes I just want to set the damn thing on fire and be done with it.
Then, I remember that surreal, astonished feeling that coursed through me on the very first time I held a published story with my name on it. My name on the cover – my name on the pages within. That feeling, that amazing feeling, that feeling I still have every time. The satisfaction of knowing that somewhere out there, the blood and sweat I pour into writing can impact people I’ll never meet.
That’s what makes it worth it. It takes passion. It takes dedication. It takes a lifelong commitment that, in the long run, might never pay off quite the way you want it to. It takes a laughing notebook, one that’ll keep you up at night with its sadistic screeching until the day you die.
But when others question why I do it, my answer is always the same.
I’m a writer.
And with that, there are no more delays. The hesitation is gone. I put my pen to the paper…
…and I write.
– Nicholas Conley