a great revelation came to me this week.
i was playing tennis and, realizing i was going lax on the serves, began to coach myself.
“you’re not committing,” i said, in my sternest attempt at a reprimand. i tossed the ball, raised my racket and swung. each serve, i had to repeat the phrase. “commit or quit,” i said, over and over.
as we played, my mind was quickly absorbed in a story line about a young tennis player. in between hits and points, i let the narrative stream over my thoughts, swearing i would spend the afternoon writing out the bones of the story. knowing i never really would.
and then the coach came.
“it’s time to commit. or quit.” but this time i knew the reprimand had nothing to do with tennis. and everything to do with my writing.
a great panic seized me, leaving me unable to focus on the game for several strokes. writing, i recalled, was the thing i always came back to. it was the thing i’ve done since i was a young girl, writing stories about explorers and adventurers and kids living big lives. it’s the thing that i’ve always been naturally good at, the thing people have consistently complimented me on.
it’s also been the thing i’ve considerably neglected, while still pining to write the great American novel.
commit. or quit.
the command repeated over and over throughout the game, leaving me reeling. i knew it was true, that i hadn’t committed, which led to a deeper question: why?
because i was afraid.
and then the deeper, harder-to-swallow question: why was i afraid?
because it might fail me. that’s the deep, dark heart of it all. i might put all i am and have into a writing venture, only to have it fail me in the end. i might invest and lose. and this thing, this friend that i’ve had since childhood, might not be my friend anymore. it feels a bit like dating a really good friend; there’s that fear that the relationship might not work out and then you’ve lost someone really special to you.
but the truth is, no matter how afraid, i can’t keep playing “writer” and not writing. i can’t keep messing around with the idea of writing, hoping someday i’ll do something with it. the crossroads have come, and it’s time to commit to writing. or quit altogether.
i’m not quite sure what that path looks like, exactly. what practices i’ll add, or when. i want any changes i make to my life to be sustainable. my thoughts, as i’ve been processing these things, have been slowly letting my true priorities rise to the top, like cream rising from fresh milk, waiting to be skimmed off and made into something delicious.
for now, i can settle only on the simplest truth: i need to write. Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, i’ll have the courage to follow through with it.