I have a piece of wind art hanging from my front porch roof. It’s got two sets of scimitar-shaped arms made of enamel-coated steel, painted red and black. The arms spin opposite each other around an axis of a pirate skull when the wind blows. I can see it through the window when I sit at my desk. Yesterday a bird decided it looked like the perfect place to sit down and sing for a while. Every time he tried to land on one of the arms, it would spin and throw him off. The bird was undeterred, though. I watched him try at least seven or eight times before I had to leave the room to do something else. As far as I know, he kept going a while longer after I was gone. He didn’t have to work so hard for a place to sit. The gardenia bushes on either side of my steps are more than big enough to hold a bird. But he wanted to sit on my wind art, and he was determined to make it work.
Most of you reading this have been hanging here at Magical Words for a long time now, and you know this while writing gig is not easy. First you have to write a book that’s worth reading, which involves weeks and months of sitting in a chair, listening to the voices in your head and typing as fast as you can. Then you have to convince someone to buy what you wrote, and put up the time and money to get it into bookstores all over the country. And you’re not even done then, because you have to help sell your book by going to signings and cons, being interviewed, writing blog posts and so on. And while that’s all going on, you’d better be writing another book. An incredible book that’ll blow everyone away, better than your last one. Around you swirls the rest of the world, the part with 9-5 jobs and ordinary bedtimes and friends and family who wonder where the hell you are. Your best bud calls and asks if you can come out for dinner and a movie, but you can’t because you’re on a deadline/Skyping to an online book club/in the middle of a truly difficult chapter that you need to finish before your head explodes. Your family keeps suggesting careers that you should go back to school and study, since it’s so much safer being a teacher/banker/chemical engineer. The world is spinning underneath you, and all you want to do is land for a minute. But you don’t want to land just anywhere. There’s plenty of room in the regular world, but you want to land in that perfect spot, the one that’s just under your grasp but you know is exactly where you want to be. So you keep flapping, in the hope that this time you’ll hit it.
In Kalayna’s last post, she talked about the fear that comes with a writing career, even before you’re published. In the beginning, there’s that fear of rejection, and later, the fear of success. Fear is paralyzing. The ideas are fewer and farther between, the words stop flowing and the book you’re trying to write starts fading into memory. There’s nothing that can destroy a career more completely than fear. So when you’re feeling that paralysis, remember my bird. So far he hasn’t figured out how to land on the spinner, but he’s determined to defy even gravity to get what he wants. And you can, too.