After yesterday’s blog post, I started thinking about why I’ve struggled with keeping going, creatively that is.
I know all creatives hit that bump in the road, that middle of the book, something that stops us and we struggle with. But as I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, I’ve finished projects. I’ve written and published both novels and comics.
So why have I struggled for so long to “keep going”?
As I was pondering that question I thought about if I was afraid to fail but I rejected that thought. How could I be afraid to fail if I’ve already done it. I know I can do this, so why would my subconscious say “you can’t”?
But then I remembered something. Something from my middle school days.
I’ve always enjoyed sports. As a matter of fact one of the things things I wanted to be when I grew up was an NFL quarterback. Joe Montana was the man and he was my idol when I was little.
Being a fan of watching sports I was a fan of playing them as well. Basketball is my second favorite sport. As much as I liked sports and enjoyed playing them, I’ve never been the “all star.”
Sure, I’ve played them well enough, I’m coordinated enough to throw a spiral, but I was always shorter then most boys, and being overweight all my life didn’t help when it came to sports.
But one day in seventh grade, while we were playing basketball during lunch, I had a moment. Now, I was always one of the last to get picked in sports. Thankfully I wasn’t THE last, but I was back there. I wasn’t the worst, I just wasn’t the best. I was average.
But this one day, boy-howdy, I was a star.
I was picked in the middle of the pack, as usual, and the game was on. I don’t know how it happened, but during the game I was passed the ball and took a shot.
It went it.
The game continued on and they passed me the ball again and again, and they all went in. I don’t remember how many points I scored during that lunch period, but I know I made some mid range jumpers, some three-pointers, and a couple of layups. I couldn’t miss.
In my head the Be Like Mike song was playing. In that moment, in seventh grade, on the blacktop during lunch, I was Michael Jordan.
I couldn’t believe it. My friends couldn’t believe it. Where the hell was this basketball player every other day before?
I was a basketball star that day.
And I make sure to clarify it was “that day” because do you know what happened? The next day, during lunch, I was picked as one of the first players for a team. I was ready. They were ready. I was about to tear up the blacktop and have another all star game.
Only I didn’t.
I might have made a shot or two, but it was nothing like the previous day. They were feeding me the ball, knowing the kind of game I had the day before, but nothing.
My friends looked at me like I was different person. My super star skills had vanished and I was back to being your average seventh-grade basketball player.
What does all of this have to do with me today and with my writing. Well, like I said, I was trying to figure out why I struggle so much after writing yesterday’s blog post. At first I thought it couldn’t be because I’m afraid to fail, because like I said, I’ve already done this. I’ve written and published fifteen novels under my name and under pens names. I’ve written, drawn, and published my own comic book. I couldn’t be afraid of failure, right? How could I be? I’ve already done it.
But being afraid of failure doesn’t only have to mean afraid of succeeding and fulfilling your dreams. I think I have been afraid of failure. I’ve been afraid of becoming that superstar like I was back in seventh grade, achieving great heights, and then
I think I’ve been afraid of finally working as a creative professional, making my living off of my creative works, and then it all disappearing. Disappearing because I lost the spark, or my books aren’t sustainable, or I’m fluke.
And that’s what I think has happened. My first set of books I published did better than I thought they would do and I made a good chunk of money. But ever since then, I haven’t reached the same height. I think I’ve been afraid of being a fluke. I was a one hit wonder, or in my case a one-series-wonder.
But here’s the thing. What if I hadn’t given up back in seventh grade? When if I had that all star game, came back the next day and stunk up the joint, then went home and practiced. Practice until my fingers bled and I couldn’t walk.
I knew I had the skills. I’d just had the game of my life. What if I hadn’t given up and practiced, practiced, practiced, until I got as good as that day and then even better?
I’m tired of thinking what if. I know what I can do because I’ve done it. I just have to figure out how to do it again. And I will.
See you tomorrow.