it’s about to get real

Confession: I hate it when writers complain about how hard it is to write.

I’m not gonna pretend it’s always easy, as if the moment you sit down, inspiration comes streaming in like sunlight through an open window in summer.

Yes, there are days when you sit and stare at a blank page and it stares back at you, unblinking, trying to suck your soul dry and make you question everything. There are days when it’s incredibly hard work to get words on the page, and even harder work to make sure those words aren’t the worst drivel you’ve ever written. I get that.

But.

It’s a privilege to do what you love. Do you realize how many people get up every morning and go to a job they hate, simply because they don’t feel like they have any other option? That my friends is hard. The occasional day when writing feels like a job instead of a passion ain’t nothin’ in comparison.

(You can tell I feel strongly about something when my southern ghetto side comes out, m’kay chil’?)

How can you possibly sit in a comfy chair at a desk in your home office or at your local coffee shop, creating characters and worlds and plots, and complain about it? You get to do what you love. (And if you don’t love it, stop. Right now. Because your potential readers deserve better.)

I’m gonna go ahead and say that again. Ya’ll better listen up.

You’re working your dream job. Yes, some of you have other jobs and a lot of times those “gotta pay the bills” jobs aren’t the most fun. But it’s writing you complain about?

Unh-unh. Not on my watch. I’m callin’ you out.

Of course it’s not easy. Do you think it would be as meaningful if writing a book were as simple as alphabetizing files? I’m glad it’s hard. It weeds out the casual hobbyists from the in-it-for-lifers. It forces us to be better, to push past the difficulties, and makes us appreciate the easy days so much more.

Even on the worst days, when you’re stuck in revision hell or you have a plot that’s unraveling faster than your latest attempt at knitting, you get to live a dream, a passion. You chose this life and it chose you. And that, ladies and gents, is an honor.

So I’m holding us to a higher standard. I’m challenging writers to stop whining and, well, write. We have the best job in the world (in my humble opinion 😉 ) and an entire sea of opportunities for growing and reaching people with our art.

Shame on us for complaining when the words don’t come as quickly as we’d like.

So let’s stop sharing our heartbreaking writing woes on Facebook and Twitter, and go write something like it’s a beautiful gift we’re meant to share with the world. Because it may very well be.

Waiting to dream

Confession: I’m totally jealous of people who can fall asleep any time, anywhere.

Granted, I’m sure it’s a tad annoying when you fall asleep in the middle of a boring meeting, but you have no idea what a blessing it is to know that when you lie down, you will fall asleep.

It’s not that simple for me. See, it’s highly likely that I have Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS). (It’s totally a real thing, I promise.) It basically means that I can’t fall asleep at a “normal time” so it’s hard to get up at a socially acceptable time. A lot of people don’t get that. They’re all, “Why don’t you just go to bed earlier?”

So cute, those people who think going to bed is equal to falling asleep. I’m happy that they clearly have never had trouble falling asleep. But that’s not how it works for me. I can be incredibly tired, but if it’s before midnight, it’s not happening. Not unless I’m completely “haven’t slept in 24 hours” type of exhausted. In most cases, I don’t fall asleep until after 2 am.

It’s not for lack of trying, I promise you. Just imagine if you had to fall asleep at 5 pm. That’s what it feels like when someone with DSPS tries to fall asleep before midnight.

I read once that for people with DSPS, maintaining socially-acceptable hours feels like functioning with constant jet lag. No joke. Been there. It’s exhausting. Unlike a lot of people with DSPS, I did manage to hold down a normal hours job for a while. How? Mostly by being tired and drinking lots of coffee. And then hibernating for 12 hours on Friday night.

I’ve been this way since I was a kid. It was a running joke in my family, about how I always slept until noon on Saturdays. They just thought I was lazy and slept a lot. What they didn’t see was that when they all went to sleep at 9 pm, I was lying in bed, wide awake until after midnight, and then I had to get up at 6 am for school. That’s not a lot of sleep for a high schooler.

But it wasn’t all bad. Because when I was just a little kid, lying there in the dark for hours, waiting for sleep to find me, I would imagine things. I would pretend I was lost at sea or living on a houseboat with my friends. I’d create other worlds and situations and adventures. It forced me to learn how to entertain myself even before I drifted into my dreams.

It’s easy to look at other people and wish I could be like them. But I’m not. I never have been. And more and more I realize, I don’t want to be.

Confession: I can entertain myself any time, anywhere. Who needs sleep when you can dream while you’re awake?