It has been a tough year. One where I felt not whole a lot of the time. Or more like I had been taken captive by something, a darkness, a sense of foreboding mixed with apathy. I’m not really sure. But I felt like I had been kidnapped, forced to live my life but not really as myself.
I kept waiting for a ransom note. One that told me the clue to getting my life back. The one with the cut out letters and clear directions that told me exactly what to do to get me back.
But the note never came.
Instead, I have spent the last year, slowly finding my way out of the darkness. One decision, one step, one new adventure at a time. I made the appointment I needed to make. I finished the work I needed to do. I started a new job which brought all new levels of fulfillment and exhaustion. I rediscovered old loves and I stepped into unknown worlds. I started to feel more and more like myself.
Except I stopped writing. I decided it was too hard. It wasn’t really what I was meant to do. I convinced myself that no one needed to read my words. It was just a hobby that I had gotten tired of, like scrapbooking and mosaic tiling. And so I let it go.
But I wonder if maybe that ransom note never came because I did not write it. Maybe if I had, I would have realized that writing is part of who I am. It makes me feel whole.
This weekend I was driving to Iowa to meet a friend for a girls’ weekend. The same friend that met me in my darkest place last fall. It was a long drive so I was listening to the This Creative Life Podcast to pass the time. Not because I considered myself a creative any longer, but because it was still on my phone and I still like to hear what my favorite authors have to share about the writing process. But as they were talking about their insecurities as writers, as they talked about the ten years it took to finally get it right, when they mentioned the 10,000 hours it takes to get good at anything that Malcolm Gladwell writes about in Outliers: The Story of Success, and as they reminded each other they write because the writing itself is satisfying and makes them who they are, something inside me shifted.
This may be the last piece that has been held captive by me. Writing is scary and discouraging and exhilarating and gratifying.
I still struggle with the fact that I am not sure if there is any value to my writing. I wonder if I have anything worth saying and I worry that I am just adding noise to an already crowded world. But I also know that if it is going to take 10,000 hours, I have a lot of hours and blog posts and scenes and chapters left to write before I can really decide if I am any good at it. At least in a professional sense. For now, I can remember that sitting down and writing words that appear on my computer screen makes me happy. And that is enough.
Not everything we do has to have an outcome. In our project based, outcome driven world, it seems that even our hobbies have to be monetized. But as my boys remind me daily, there is joy in the doing. The doing of that thing that you were meant to do, whether that is playing hockey, learning to pitch, practicing guitar, building Minecraft worlds, or writing stories.