note to self: it’s okay to be a writer

If you’re awake at 4 a.m., you might as well get up and write something.

Instead of peering over the edge of the bed, staring into the tiny screen of the smart phone perched on the side rail, trolling the internet, go ahead and roll out to the dining room table. It’s summer in the northwest. It’ll be light in about five minutes.

* * * * *

There’s always something. Some reason not to write . . .

You write for a living and sometimes have nothing leftover. You’ve spent your words at work.

You’re a perfectionist. You write and write and can’t seem to make it right. See that seventeen-inch high stack of papers that should be a book by now?

What if no one reads it? What if it angers people? What if I say something stupid?

Everybody writes. What could you possibly write about that hasn’t been written?

The bathtub and shower need to be scrubbed. Look at that grout! It’s a disgrace.

You let the slugs eat the lettuce you planted. All of it.

You have a hundred thousand pictures in boxes and on hard drives that should be organized into albums.

You have a stack of patterns and fabric in the loft, waiting, waiting, waiting.

You would so much rather look at houses, recipes, magazines . . . imagine renovations . . . Why weren’t you a Home Ec major again? (Oh yeah, maybe the neglected bathroom, lettuce, photos and fabric . . .)

You feel guilty.

That’s it, isn’t it?

You start to write and remember messages you haven’t answered. Phone calls to make. Thank you letters. Birthday cards. Friends you’ve neglected. People you keep saying you’re going to have over and never do. That prayer group you’ve been thinking about starting for seven years — wow, has it been that long?

You beat yourself up about failures. You know that, right? You let them get the best of you.

Yes, some of that guilt is good. It’s a reminder to pull your head out of those deep thoughts and see the people around you. We all lean toward our own interests and not the interests of others. You’re naturally self-centered — just like everyone is to one degree or another — and sometimes have to fight it off with a baseball bat. For you, a person energized by solitude, this is often a real struggle. But a worthwhile one. Make yourself act on the small voice whispering call, go, speak. Face your fears.

You have a tendency to fold inward, especially when you are feeling inadequate. Which, if you haven’t noticed, has been happening more and more. You are less confident than you have ever been. And for you, who once thought she knew it all, that’s actually a very good thing. But there is a time to unfold.

Sometimes, though, you need to understand . . . your failures aren’t really even failures. It’s just how you’re made.

You’ve always, always, always written your thoughts. (You’d be the most amazing pen pal if you weren’t so easily distracted.)

You’ve always been a dreamer. A strategist. You have thoughts about so very many things.

You are a ponderer and you are becoming more of one every day.

You see story everywhere. Even walls speak.

You see a connectedness in things. You stare at a clover and see the Trinity. 

You see possibilities. There is always a way.

Your quiet is good.

Your reflective is necessary.

Your words encourage someone.

You are a writer. The multi-cat, messy house, crazy hair, absent-minded sort of writer. In twenty years, you’re going to be just like every odd writer you’ve truly loved. Maybe by then you’ll even have finished a book.

Unfold the pages of your life and hit publish, dear writer.

Someone, somewhere has insomnia, too.

* * * * *

Photo credit: Esther Bubley, photographer, 1943
Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-fsa-8d27122