As I shut my laptop closed late last night, I felt at peace. There was excitement and fear of course, but there was also peace. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be even remotely successful. It’s not that big of a deal I tried to tell myself. But that last part is wrong. It is a big deal.
There is an old Hemingway quote that many people know that I just love. It goes something like this: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” It’s a statement so profound (to me, anyhow) that I can’t possibly follow it up with any meager offerings of my own.
That’s all there is to it. Bleed your very heart and soul onto the paper or in my case, into the word document. Yesterday I sat with the cursor blinking back at me. It was looking at the unfinished rough draft for my very first book. And I want it to be good, of course I do. Who wants to write something bad?! But I’ve been worrying. I’m only 32, maybe I haven’t lived enough yet to write an entire book. I don’t have any sort of degree; I never even finished college. I dropped out when I ran out of money, terrified of going into debt and so I chose to walk away. What do I know about writing a book? Nothing. Aside from some chicken scratch in a few old journals and a couple of blog posts. I don’t know if I’m even any good. What if my friends and family love me so much, they can’t bear to tell me the truth and crush my dream? And who would even want to read a whole book on me? I’m actually quite ordinary, I don’t have anything about me that sets me apart. What makes me qualified to pass down any sort of wisdom? Nothing. Nothing at all. Yes, I’ve been worrying quite a bit lately.
In a moment of doubt, I did something silly and a bit embarrassing. I went to Google for help. Now, Google doesn’t know me and Google hasn’t read anything I’ve written so far. Google and I aren’t really even that good of friends. But still, seeking validation I asked, looking for the cold, hard truth. I actually typed in the words “will anyone read my book” into the search bar. I clicked on a few of the results with little interest, but one in particular caught my eye. I scanned the words of some author/speaker/self-help guru and felt almost instantly better.
Do you know what it said? Well, because I don’t want to go and try and find it again, I’ll paraphrase it for you. It said do it. If you like the book, then that is all that matters. You are the one writing it and you are the only one putting the work in. If you think it is good, then that is all that matters. And your idea is good because it is yours, and it means something to you. In the end, if only one person in the entire world finds the book worthwhile, then that justifies your efforts. It doesn’t matter if that one person is your mom or your spouse or your best friend. A reader is a reader. And if you write something that nobody likes, you’re in good company. Many authors, even successful ones at that, have written things deemed complete junk by their hardiest of fans.
I felt better. How did Google know? Maybe we were friends after all. Maybe I really was going to write this book and it was going to be ok. It was going to be ok if no publisher was interested and I had to self-publish it myself. It was going to be ok if no one else liked it but my inner circle of 12 people that support absolutely everything I do, no matter how awful I think it is. It was going to be ok if only 3 people bought it. It was going to be ok if it was a total flop and a failure. It was going to be ok as long as I thought it would
And so I will continue on with these words, whether good and bad, making something that matters to me.