I went to Vegas once because it’s supposed to be Disneyland for grownups. It wasn’t. Not for me, at least, but that’s a whole other story.
On the way home, the plane had to hold for bad weather for so long we ran out of fuel and had to make a crash landing and missed the runway in the blizzard, which was scary as hell and didn’t add much to the experience.
Anyway, while I was in Vegas, I saw someone hit the jackpot.
Coins pouring out of the machine and the lady was laughing and crying at the same time and hopping around in the way children do when they’ve waited too long to use the bathroom because oh my God, you hope and play and mostly walk away unfulfilled, but that one time, that one crazy time — that’s why you keep doing it, I guess.
Sometimes writing feels a lot like gambling...
You write that one article that came out of nowhere and most likely it’s not the one you slaved over for 7 damn hours, and then it goes wild and you get 5.8K views and 2.8K likes and for a day or two you’re not invisible.
And then — poof — you’re invisible again.
Despite all the people who line up daily to tell us how to succeed at writing, there’s no formula that works for everyone. It’s a gamble. Every single time.
If you’re one of those folks with 70.1K followers, I’m not talking to you. I’m talking to we average, who don’t hit publish and get 500 hearts in one hour.
Why do we do it? Because we must.
Writers write because we must. Because we can’t “not” write.
I suppose it’s like that for all creatives.
Artists paint because they must.
Musicians play because they must.
Composers compose because they must.
Sometimes, I’ll be in the middle of some random thing, having a shower or trying to go the hell to sleep already and the damn words won’t leave me alone until I write them down.
Is there anyone else but a writer who’d be sitting awake in bed at 2 am, bleary eyed and writing down words just to get some damn peace from them?
At that moment, in the wee hours, even as I’m writing them, I know they’re probably not going to be the ones that get thousands of views, because why the hell would it ever be that simple?
It never is. It’s a crap shoot. Every time.
I don’t think it’s that way for non-creatives. I mean, I don’t suppose plumbers plumb because they must. Except maybe that they must pay their mortgage and bills and buy groceries. But I don’t think it’s quite the same.
I don’t think a plumber gets in the shower and suddenly gets a damn brain flash of some plumbing thing he has to deal with right that minute or it won’t give him any peace. You know?
Why share our words?
Sometimes, I hoard words. Write them in my collection of black moleskin journals with a black ballpoint pen and tuck them into my desk, hidden away from the world. These words, these aren’t for sharing.
I confess, I’ve hoarded far more words than I’ve shared.
Why? I’d like to say I don’t know, but that would be a lie.
Sometimes, simply because in a world crammed to the edges with self growth tips and success tips and CEO habits and eye-grabbing titles and people sharing their ugliest demons and the death of their spouse in trade for hearts and likes, it just feels like — nope, can’t do it. Maybe one day, but not this day.
But sometimes we do share our words and of course we do, because human connection is all there is.
Sometimes, we are seeking connection and little more than that. One heart that beats to the same rhythm as our own.
Sometimes it’s an attempt to pad thin coffers a little and I try to clap a little more when I know that’s the case, but of course I don’t always know.
Sometimes, we’re hoping to find a handful of people who might like that book or photo or art we made. Because 3.2 million people online, please God there must be someone out there who will want this piece of my heart.
Everything hinges on people, which can be a glorious thing or really depressing, depending on whether they are responding or not. And how they’re responding. I’ve lost track of the insults thrown at me long ago.
Did you ever realize how much a kind word can mean to a total stranger?
And so, when we do finally hit publish, the hope begins... Please, someone, understand where these words of mine came from.
Someone? Anyone? A word, a heart, maybe even a kind thought? We all hope it, even if we never say it. Even if we valiantly ignore our stats for days.
We are all so very vulnerable to each other’s whims, and perhaps never so much as when we pretend not to be.