Getting serious about my writing has made a huge difference in my life. I’ve crossed a threshold of squirmish indecisiveness that I just can’t uncross, and I sure as hell don’t ever want to. It’s been about a year since I started standing up for it publicly — and what I notice most beside the sheer pleasure of making up stories on my computer and talking about the process, is the huge load of useless crap that fell away from my life. And here’s a list of these things that I now have the balls to live without.
1. Expecting the world to be fair
Karma is a human invention. There’s no such thing as natural justice and balance of forces, since these things are human concepts themselves, and we’re neither the center of the universe, nor do our current values matter in any way in the grand scheme of things. So why should I expect fairness to reign supreme?
Even among each other, as creators of the concept of fairness, there is no fairness because fairness requires effort and reciprocity and we’re all just too busy to make the world fair for others. And I don’t find this any more sad than I find it fair. It is what it is, and I got work to do.
2. Moderating my own opinions
Not how I say them and to whom, that’s another issue, but inside my own freaking head. Moderate my opinions while they’re forming! I used to do that, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. It’s called authoritarian self-censorship, and is a reaction to fear. At the worst times, in my adolescence, I chastised myself for being honest in my head, and ended up with a meh-opinion that was practically worthless instead of a thorny opinion, a daring opinion, a straightforward and practical opinion that would have actually gotten me somewhere.
I’ve long since stopped doing that, but I found it’s quite common with writers nowadays. I can’t see inside their heads to know what they think, but much of it rubs off on their behavior anyhow, and it proves there’s a lot of fear to even think in a brutally honest way, about the industry, about other writers, about oneself and one’s bad choices.
I’m not about to say it’s okay to blurt out every thought as it comes flying, I’d be stupid to believe that’s a good advice, but I’m saying it’s necessary to not let that affect my actual opinions. The moment I let censoring through the door of my own mind, my spirit becomes corrupted, and that’s about everything that I can say is truly mine.
3. Waiting for others
If I make up my mind to do something, to try something out or venture in a new direction, I’m not going to wait for others to go in first before I take the plunge. If someone’s already in the water when I figure I want to swim, then sure, I can watch how they’re doing it and learn from them, but if I’m standing at the edge of the lake and I’m alone and want to go for a swim, I’m sure as hell not gonna stand there and grow a beard until someone else takes the dive and gives me the thumbs up.
4. Sustaining harmful relationships
Self-explanatory? Not with so many people having their life regularly sucked out by emotional and intellectual vampires. No, not the sparkly kind, ha ha snort. *shut up*
It’s a pity to waste your energy, when there are so many ways to figure out if someone you’re suspicious of being a vampire is actually sucking you dry. *stop giggling*
Understand that your worth as a person is not theirs to decide, and free yourself.
Use a wooden stake. *badump bump*
5. Living around others
Sure there are ways to do everything so as to not bother people, to go around them and not stir the beasts, and I usually think of those options first, but if taking all those measures requires more time and effort than the damn thing I wanted to do in the first place, then fuck them. I’ve got rights. Says so right here! *points at random piece of paper*
6. Receiving without repaying
Saying “Thanks!” or “Great job!” or “Holy fuck your work is awesome!” is so easy, and it gives both parties so much. There’s just no loss in it, and it makes the world a better place and saves the rain-forest, or something.
7. Doubting my desire
Do I really want to do this, even if it’s hard? Do I really commit to this every day, and stay with it even if it sucks donkey balls sometimes? Do I really love this? Yes, yes and yes! Because we waaaants it… we neeeeeds it… my Precious…
8. Worrying about other people’s reactions
Unless their reactions are what I’m after—such as in writing fiction, or convincing people (like my boss, my colleagues, or other writers) to try a different approach ’cause I think it’s worth it—then they are not my concern. I take notice, and move on. I don’t bang my head against the desk just cause someone said something about what they think I meant when I said what I tried to say. Bleargh.
9. Pretending I give a shit when I don’t, and vice-versa
This one’s really simple once the previous one is clear. My self-respect is more important to me than stroking someone else’s ego, especially if that someone’s all up in my face trying to get me to do things for them before even asking how my day was.
On the flipside, if I’m stumped about something or really excited (even if it’s creepy, and it usually is) then I’m not gonna play all disinterested and cool just to preserve the blissful ignorance about the subject and keep the waters calm for the benefit of others.
10. Looking for the easy way out
Everyone’s trying to avoid work, instead of getting better and faster at it through practice. I’m not in that camp anymore, simply because there’s no return of investment. Those five hours I spent trying to find a shortcut? Those two days trying out the shortcut, failing, trying again a different way because my first assumption is that I’m an asshat and got it wrong, then failing again and realizing the shortcut’s a dead end—all that time? I could’ve been doing something that’s actually worthwhile, like working on my WIP or meeting awesome new people who expand my horizon.
11. Acting like I’m just winging this on the side
No, writing is not my Sunday hobby, and it’s not the babbling result of a brainwash by a bunch of abusive muses. I have a “real” day-job, but that doesn’t make writing a hobby. I don’t earn money with my writing yet, but it doesn’t make me less of a writer. I’m not just doing this on the side, I’m doing all that other shit on the side. I’m doing this because it’s who I am and what I want from life, and I love it every step of the way. What are you doing with all your time?
12. Looking for responsibility in others
My life is not in their hands, it’s in mine. That’s the single greatest benefit of living in a free country. So damn straight I’m gonna make the most of it and take responsibility for everything I do and believe, for everything I create and destroy, and for everything I leave behind and everything I take with me.
13. Trading in what’s possible for what’s likely
I don’t know how to explain this other than by saying that it’s fucking amazing how many things are possible out there!
In writing fiction, in blogging, in connecting with others in meaningful ways, in being fearlessly open, in living our lives, in rocking our jobs, in growing with our relationships, in living our dreams. So much is possible that is absolutely beautiful, that’s liberating and good, but we don’t take advantage of it—because we don’t dare to think that big, because we believe it’s unlikely to happen. And because of that we don’t really try hard enough, and we’re turning it into impossible.
We’re turning possible into impossible because we’ve forgotten to dare and to work for it. Or in the words of one wise penmonkey, “go big and go bold, or go the fuck home.”
In case you’re wondering why the following things aren’t on the list:
- treading lightly in fiction, whether it’s about cursing or slicing into taboos
- asking for attention or favors
- prioritizing comfort over goals
It’s because I’ve never done them, never even considered doing them, and should you ever catch me at it you’re allowed to throw something at my face. I’ll probably catch it and whoop your ass with it, but hey, at least we’d get to know each other on a more personal level. I’m a really nice person once you get to know me, promise.
Now the ball’s in your court. What did you dare to leave behind once you stood up for being a writer?