Being original

Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.
C. S. Lewis (1898 – 1963)

I can’t believe how hard it is for me to write in this blog! I have been wanting to do this for so long; to have a safe place where I could pour out all of my thoughts, longings, fears, and hopes; rant, rave, cry, and complain. A place that was mine, all mine, unlike the other, more public places where I spend my days, at work or at home, surrounded by people who expect me to behave a certain way, to be the Erin they need me to be.  

I used to keep journals. I wrote in a journal for years and years. I started my first one in junior high school, and it immediately became somewhat of an addiction. I was such a faithful journalist! Where I went, my journal went. I took every opportunity to scribble in it: during the precious few minutes at the end of class while waiting for the bell; during study hall while the other kids did their algebra homework or played euchre; every night before I went to bed. I filled page after page with everything that was going on in my head, of which there was a scarily large amount. I was one of those angst-ridden teenagers–much more of a rarity back then—whose brain never had any downtime. (What am I saying? I am now an adult whose brain never has any downtime!)

I went to college to study writing with an eye toward pursuing a writing career. I wrote and wrote and wrote. In class and in private diaries and in endless letters to loved ones, I practiced my craft. The professors liked my writing, which boosted my confidence (a little). They encouraged me to try to get something published. I didn’t. I left university just a few credits shy of earning my degree in English, got married relatively young, produced three children, supported my husband in his climb up the corporate ladder, contributed to my community, and raised my kids. I did all of those things—all noble things—with all my might. But my desire to write for a living? It has festered, all of these years, on the back burner. And the burner wasn’t even on low.

  I returned to university a couple of years ago to complete that long-ago abandoned English degree. It was lovely. It was energizing. It was cathartic. It was the finishing of unfinished business. I adored everything about it. And the professors seemed to like my writing even more than the first time. It was a huge boost to my battle-scarred ego. They encouraged me to try to get published. And still…..I’ve yet to summon the confidence to submit anything for publication. The fear of not being good enough; the fear of rejection; the fear (this is the Biggie) of not being completely and utterly original—these fears have paralysed and stymied me in my lifelong desire to write.

So what shall I do? Is it too late for me? Have all the good ideas been taken? Is there really nothing new under the sun?

I once read an interview of an author who had “made it” (I regret that his name escapes me) and he was asked, as most successful authors are, what advice, if any, he would give to an aspiring writer. His answer—forgive my murky paraphrase—was something along the lines of this:  “Just write. Every day.  Just do it. It doesn’t matter what you write as long as you are writing. The editing can come later.”

So maybe that’s what I need to do. Start carrying a notebook with me everywhere I go, and when I think of something to say, I will write it down. When I see something that intrigues me, I will write it down. When I remember something from long ago that brings a smile or a tear, I will write it down.

I will write.

I will just write.

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