“Keep writing.” That is the line one of my blog fairy godmothers Bené Viera has dropped three different times when talking to me.
It seems like such a simple concept–keep writing. It almost seems inane and absurd to tell a writer to keep writing. Unless, of course, you are a writer. Then you know how critical and revolutionary it is when someone tells you to keep writing.
A lot has happened to me and for me this year. It is difficult, nearly impossible, to sum up those things. I am still processing so many of them. The ups have not ever been without the downs, the successes have not been without some failures. I wish I could give you everything, tell you everything, make sense of everything. I cannot. Not yet. Maybe not ever. Maybe that is half of the problem, that I’ve been giving everything, telling everything, trying so hard to make sense of everything. I now know that there is a certain freedom in not having to understand it all.
This year was the first time I truly considered no longer writing the blog. This blog. My lifeblood and my baby and my everything–I was ready to light a match to it. I was ready to leave it in the abandoned wasteland of barely-launched blogs. I started to struggle with whether or not my self-exploration had turned into self-exploitation. But, most people didn’t know that because I was giving my readers every thing, every day, all the time. I was making it look easy, but it was breaking my back. I was breaking my back. I lost the zeal and the butterflies stopped arriving when it was time to churn out a piece. I was losing friends just as quickly as I was gaining readers. I was not present for my own success; I was too busy moving on to the next thing. I was building the brand and forgetting the foundation.
And a few weeks ago a woman in a coffee shop spotted my (very narcissistic) laptop background–a photo of me typing on my laptop. I know, so meta.
“Ah, the aspiring writer,” she said as she approached me.
“Ha, something like that,” I laughed.
She asked what I wrote. I told her about the blog. I don’t think she really knew what that meant, but she nodded proudly and said, “Congratulations. You’ll have books some day.”
There are things in life that happen at the most pivotal moments. There are forks in the road we don’t see ahead of time. There are signs and people and borderline eerie shit that occurs to yank us back into a reality we’ve ignored. Writing is my reality. Coffee shop woman reminded me of my own reality in the midst of my dangerous attempts to flee from it.
Keep writing. When the world starts caving in and the birds stop singing and the clouds grow grey. Keep writing when you are tired, when you are spent, when you worry you have nothing left to give. Keep writing when the letters start smearing together and your fingers feel like they are about to decay.
Keep writing when it hurts. When it aches. When it stings and when it pains. Keep writing when you cry, when you can’t sleep at night, when your heart cracks into one billion beautiful pieces. Keep writing when everyone else has given up and your best words are met with radio silence.
Keep writing when the adversity comes charging. Keep writing when the haters are hollering and waving their hands high. Keep writing when the snakes bite and the bottom feeders gnaw. Keep writing when you are under attack, when everyone’s guns are blazing, when it feels like you’re up against the wall and the firing squad has approached. Keep writing when people want to doubt you, when people can’t stand you, when people can’t fathom nor accept your success. Keep writing when people try to scramble, misconstrue and destroy your words. Keep writing when people try to scramble, misconstrue and destroy you.
Keep writing when the days are good and the sun shines and it feels like you could do it forever.
Keep writing when the days are bad and the rain pours and it feels like you will not go on.
Keep writing when you worry that you’ve said it all or fret that you’ve said it wrong.
Keep writing when it seems as though all people want to read is a good Buzzfeed listicle. Keep writing when essays have gone out of style and substance seems so yesterday. Keep writing when people lament that they do not want to see quotes on their Instagram feed, only pictures. Keep writing when it seems as though no one really wants to read.
Keep writing when the pitch gets rejected and the email gets ignored.
Keep writing when you bust your ass for exposure and the opportunity falls through.
Keep writing when it feels like you’ve run out of words or topics or new ways to begin sentences.
Keep writing when your stomach is in knots because it feels like the world is watching and you are royally fucking it up. Keep writing when it seems as though everyone has run out of pleasant things to say. Keep writing when the ugliness of humanity is taking its toll on your spirit.
Keep writing even when you don’t know what the end looks like, when you don’t know how it tastes or sounds. Keep writing when a finished manuscript seems far, far, far away. Keep writing when all of your writing feels like just things and just paragraphs and just a few people. Keep writing when the end is not close.
Keep writing when all you want to do is stop writing. That is the moment when you need to keep writing the most.
Keep writing. Someone hears you. Someone needs you. Someone believes in what you are doing and how you are doing it. But, above all, keep writing because it will feed your soul and preserve your peace of mind. Keep writing to keep your inner beauty in tact and your body out of a straitjacket. Keep writing. Do it first for you. Then do it for others. But, please, just keep writing.