Iron sharpens iron
I'm going to let out a little secret (okay, not so secret) -- I like to make up stories. And I have a dream to write a novel (or several). And right now, I'm actually working on it actively, albeit slowly. And when I tell my friends and family "I want to write a novel" they say "awesome! let me read it when it's finished!" They aren't patronizing me. They take me seriously and genuinely believe in my dream. I have some pretty amazing friends. Full stop. And I could just finish this post right here, because the ways in which my friends blow my mind and humble me and make me grateful on a daily basis is worth saying all by itself.
But lately, something more specific has been on my mind: an idea that having friends who share your passion/dream/hobby can be invaluable.
I have quite a few creative, artistic friends, many of who make their living -- or part of their living -- at making art. And they are inspiring. Their creativity and productivity and passion make me want to be creative as well. And that by itself would be enough.
I am a notoriously lazy writer, an un-finisher. I'll start a story, but let life distract me when the writing becomes work. I'll abandon my characters and plot...or I'll rush an ending (build up, build up, build up......and they all live happily-ever-after-the-end. Or....mystery, mystery, mystery.....so-and-so-did-it-the-end). Last year, I set a pretty big goal for myself. And I failed to meet it. Or even come close. It was pretty discouraging and I'd basically decided that I was operating under a delusion, and I was going to stop calling myself a writer. Stop listing it as one of my hobbies. Stop pretending that "one day"....
I hadn't really told anyone. Then on New Year's Even, I'm chatting with my super-creative-talented-hardworking-artist friend Doc. Doc and Julie (photographer, seamstress, artist) are inspiring: working and creating to slowly but surely make their dreams come true. So, Doc and I are chatting. And he says "by the way, how's your writing coming?" I admit that I'm pretty much ready to abandon any pretense and just throw in the towell. Doc's expression became a mixture of shock and sadness that surprised me in its intensity.
"Please don't give up," he said. "Just...don't give up."
His strong reaction blew me away. There was no way I could refuse his plea.
Because Doc's reaction was not just that of a friend -- but from a fellow artist. Because what I read between the lines was: "if you give up on this dream, you aren't just giving up on yourself, you're giving up on art. You are betraying artists everywhere of every vareity who have sacrificed and sweat and bled and poured themselves into creating. If this truly is your dream, if you truly want to tell stories, DO NOT GIVE UP. "
That's a lot of between the line reading, and sure...maybe that's not quite what he meant, but that's the message I got, and the one I needed to hear. Because deep down...I didn't want to give up. But up until that moment, the only person I was letting down was me. Now -- whenever it gets hard, whenever my laptop is screaming at me and I just. don't.want.to -- I feel like I'm not just letting myself down, I'm letting down a lot of people. People who believe in me, and people who believe in the beauty and gift of art.
Which sounds like a lot of pressure. But you know what...it's a good kind of pressure.