A while ago I wrote a short story about a guitar player walking down a dirt road toward a crossroads late at night. It was a long, excruciatingly painful walk, because he was about to get the thing he wanted most in the world: the ability to play the instrument like no other human being.
Of, course, he had to pay a price.
I think that agonizingly long walk towards a tangible goal is part of the price he had to pay in order to reach that certain goal.
Do you know what really motivated me to keep writing all these years, even when no one seemed to want to read my stuff? It was not the guy who called me a retard on the web, it was not ambition, it was simply the desire to walk down the road I had chosen until I’ve reached a certain destination. I just wanted to cross the finish line.
I wanted to become a writer so badly that it didn’t matter the price I had to pay: time and energy and a bunch of other million little sacrifices.
Do you know what keeps me up sometimes at night? It’s not the question of whether people will enjoy my work, or if I’m going to be remembered a century after I’m gone, but the fear of having to quit writing. For whatever reason.
We often talk about readers and all that stuff, about inspiring others, about changing something in the world. About fighting for something in our art. We talk about power of will, about perseverance, but we rarely talk about inner motivation, about what keeps us going when everything seems to go wrong.
There are no hobby artists out there. No closet writers, no weekend photographers. We all make art because we feel the need to make something that’s going to last forever. Most of us don’t have the courage to do what it takes in order to fulfill that dream.
But when you find so much happiness and joy in the words you write, or the paintings you create, how can you tell everyone that you wouldn’t want to do this anytime you’d want to? That you wouldn’t want to do this for as long as you can, without having to worry about anything else?
There was nothing I hated more when I was a teenager than having to go to school, or do homework, when all I wanted was to write. That’s why I skipped a lot of classes.
I wanted to write, and I spent a lot of time dreaming about being able to do only that. Write. Whenever I wanted to. Whatever I wanted to.
And to be honest, if it wouldn’t have been for certain financial difficulties I began to experience a few years ago, I would have never tried to self-publish, I would have never started this blog.
On April the 23rd 2012 I wrote my first blog post. I wrote, “This is my first post on this new blog. I’ll try to put as much content as possible. I am going to write some funny stories, make some witty remarks, and shamelessly promote my stories and books whenever I can. Right now it’s so late in Romania, that’s starting to get early.
And I’m tired and this is turning me into a terrible cliche. So this is good night, for now.”
Short. Not really funny.
Anyway, I had decided to keep writing, and to keep blogging, no matter what. Even if no one cared. Even if no one commented. Even if no one read my books.
This was the dream, the motivation that would keep me going. I had plans, realistic plans, and an editorial calendar, and marketing ideas, and other projects, but the dream was the one thing that kept me going when plans were falling apart.
What I’m really trying to say is that we never know where the road might take us. Of course, we’re all trying to reach a certain destination, but it always changes. We change. Our dreams change. The road changes us in ways we’d never be able to predict.
I know it sounds cliche and stuff, but it’s really important to keep going. And you’d be surprised at how many great artists I’ve encountered who just gave up. Because they thought they weren’t good enough, because they thought they couldn’t make it. Because it was difficult for them to find an audience. Some even gave up because they wanted to earn enough money by doing other stuff, then devote their time to making art. They never got a chance.
Life’s cruel like that sometimes.
Art is all about power of will. Only by making art can you be as free as you want to be. I can write whatever I want on a piece of paper, and only if I want to, I can share it with you. I can give it away for free or try to sell it. I’m free when I write, and I’m free to do whatever I want with what I write after I write it.
So, yes, this is what almost everything worth doing in life is all about: choose to go down a certain road, and no matter how scared you are, you have to keep going.