Roughly one year ago I checked into a hotel room for work purposes in Albany, NY and proceeded to crank out a FAT bit of what would become the first finished draft of any novel I've written. I remember the excited feeling that seized me when I realized how easy that step could be. I could just let go, type whatever the hell I wanted, and let the first draft be the first draft. The feeling was (and is) a rush. Just walking into this world that wouldn't exist without me and just smashing, dashing, rearranging, setting the course for all these nifty people, it just felt so right and so essential to who I am. Somehow I knew that if I just kept working on this, if I just kept doing this, that I would become a better person. I didn't know how, and frankly I still don't, but I think I am. I think having a purpose that runs deeper than making someone else money is a basic human need. I realize that need isn't for everyone, and I don't begrudge those who would disagree, but to them I would say they simply haven't dug deep enough or given themselves enough credit for their own creations.
You need a craft to survive in this world. I'm sure of it. You need something that goes beyond money and carnal desire and ambition and everything else that this world tells you that you need. You need something that feels right when you do it. Something that makes you feel special, that makes you feel like no one is doing exactly what you're doing at that second. You don't have to get paid for it (though aspiring to make money seems, to me, prudent at the very least) but you need to have it in your life. Otherwise what's the point? Make like three people in the world happy while you take what pleasure you can from that? It doesn't seem right to me. I lived that life. I toiled without challenging myself and trying to grow myself. I hated it. I wrote like once a month and it was pure cow's piss when I did. Who cares? I wasn't dedicated. I look at my writing now and I'm happier about it, but it's like my golf game. I know that even if I improve a little bit every day for the next ten years, I'll still want to get better in a decade. I'll still find flaws in my game. What a beautiful thing.
I didn't have this perspective a year ago, but it's because of nights like those I spent in hotels like this one that remind me of what is essential to this process. It's not about characters or plot or making things work on a systematic level (though I do believe those things certainly separate certain works from others). None of those things will work if you don't pour your fucking ass into it. Also your heart. Actually if you had to choose between ass and heart, you'd probably go heart. But really all a heart does is pump blood, so that shit's overrated.
Put in the work is what I'm trying to say. Just do it for a year. Pick your favorite hobby or form of artistic expression and dedicate yourself for one year. Yes, it's a long time. Yes, it's going to suck. Yes, working out counts but only if you're in bad shape now. Just pick one thing to throw yourself into after work. Every day. Do it and relish in it. If you don't, find something new and restart the clock. Do it now before you stagnate because the older you get, the more your feet grow roots where you stand. Demand your best and you'll be surprised at what comes next.
I might not be a whole lot closer to my ultimate goal, but life isn't about the destination. It's about the journey. Mine started a little over a year ago and I'm still just starting this out. I'm just now realizing though that it doesn't really matter if I hit that finish line. Whether ten people, twenty people or twenty million people read my stuff, I'm gonna keep it going because I'm me and I write, dammit. I don't think I ever fully understood that sentiment until I did just that. So join in, my friends, and tell me about it when you do. I'll have a beer waiting for you in the clubhouse. Unfortunately the clubhouse is really a tree fort I lease from a ten year old since I'm broke. Hey, no one said chasing your dream was lucrative.