For a little over five years now I’ve been doing “Friday Firesmith” and until I am fired or tired I’ll keep writing. Someone asked me how I keep going after so long and the answer is as simple and as complex as you would like for it to be; I write.
No one ever questions if they’re going to eat unless they’re out of food, and no one ever questions if they’ll breathe or if their heart will pump blood, or if they’ll see reflected light and translate that into reality. It’s just something that is automatic and it’s natural. That’s part of what I do and how it’s done. To me, writing is as easy as breathing. That’s one part of it.
The other side of the coin is… writing is hard work. Letters become words, words become sentences, sentences become paragraphs, and… then they are deleted or rewritten. This happens more than you can know unless you write. Or paint, or sculpt, or do anything that demands that it say what you want it to say. It’s hard work. To me, it’s always a trade-off. I get what I put into it. I receive the water pumped, the wood chopped, the grapes from the vine, or I don’t. But that first step must be taken. That first word must be written. The beginning must start somewhere and then the real work begins of putting an idea together that makes sense.
About two out of every three “Friday Firesmith” essays lives to see the internet. The rest are deleted. About one out of every five that live to see the internet began with me having no idea at all what I was going to write until I wrote it. This is one of these.
The big issue with most people is having time to write. I try to write during lunch at work and usually I get to but there seem to be people who want to socialize at lunch so sometimes I get shot down before I get started. If I can get somewhere with a laptop and fifteen minutes I can get one of these started, edited somewhat, and start the rewrite. I’m the world’s worst editor and it’s a constant fight trying to make sure I got everything right before Jon sees it. He’s good about making sure things are reasonably good before they go to print.
To date, Jon’s only squashed two essays; the first because of the sexual nature of the essay, which I wondered if it was too much, and it was, and the other because it started a fight that needed to be quelled before it got weird. I never argue with Jon’s judgment. I know how hard it is to keep a website running and managing as many people as he has here. It’s harder than most people think. Try it, if you don’t believe me. Also, despite the fact that both of us are online entities, we’re actually both adults and can disagree with one another and it not turn into a third-grade playground name calling IQ killing screaming match.
If you want to write, or paint, or make wine from grapes, you have to start doing it. You will be terrible at it. Your writing will sound like a beginner wrote it, your painting will look as if someone just started painting did it, and your wine will taste horrible. You have to get over it. You have to keep going. If you quit you can’t. Just because you can’t, doesn’t mean you have to quit.
I wrote this in two different parts and edited it on a dark and stormy night. When I started I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say, but I think it’s, “If you want to write, it is both as natural as breathing and as hard as farming.”
I recommend both farming and writing to teach humility. You can never truly master either.