2016 is upon us and that means 2015 is behind us. Last January, I set out to write a blog for a year. I’d become far too insulated during my college years. Time I would have spent reading and writing when I was a teenager, I started using to burnish my resume, party and generally forget that an undergraduate career is typically four years.
I enjoyed a ton of it. I learned a lot (unsurprisingly, mostly out of the classroom). I grew as a person. I did all the things you’re supposed to do.
But I wasn’t writing.
How can you call yourself a writer, identify as a writer, be a writer (forget making money off it) if you don’t sit down and fucking do it? It turns out the threat of the total collapse of my self-concept, the evaporation of everything I thought I was, was exactly the motivation I needed.
I like to think I kinda of succeeded, success here defined as “not failing.”
Together, here we sit, 96 posts later. I guess I can best summarize my 2015, particularly on the Slog, with this screenshot one of my friends kindly Tweeted my way:
Yeah, I pretty much dominated the news in 2015, no doubt about it.
Still, I didn’t finish my novel. I didn’t follow through on the promise to publish my serial. I didn’t even read the books I sought to. Maybe I was simply lazy but I learned long ago “laziness” is often a substitute for “afraid.”
Fear is a tricky thing. You can try to fight it, conquer it, even snuff it out temporarily, but ultimately, it is a part of us. And, like any part of us we don’t like, whether it’s a mole on our face, a tumor in our brain, or a predisposition for depression, the only long-term method of control is acceptance.
I tried the first way for a long time, imagining myself locked in heavily-choreographed hand-to-hand combat with my fears as I tried to subdue them through mental brute force. It was foolish, because the fight became more important than the doing. I wasn’t moving past the fear; I was reveling in it.
I wrote above that I felt most threatened – and most motivated – when it appeared I was losing part of myself. This blog, more than anything else, stands as a reaction to that fear. In 2016 though, I am gripped by a new fear:
I will die if I do not write my novel.
Let me clarify, before your brain starts extrapolating wildly: that’s not a promise or a prediction. What I mean is who I am – or at least who I think I am – would cease to exist if I do not write this novel. This isn’t a project I can put aside, a naive dream I have to move past to achieve my adult apotheosis. This is more than half – 12-goddamn-years – of my life. It represents the most fundamental parts of myself. This book isn’t a thing or an idea; it is me.
It’s taken me a long time to accept fear. It’s definitely not something I’m practiced at. I suspect much of my 2016 will still be spent continuing to battle it to varying degrees, whether that is in finishing college, finding my career as a writer, or just plain beginning my post-collegiate life. At the same time, I have a glimmer of hope that 2015 has taught me how to look at fear not as an enemy but an old friend, one who doesn’t deter but guides me to the areas of my life I need to change.
I didn’t set out to give myself therapy when I wrote this but here we are. What I did set out to do was thank you for reading this and any other bits of inanity I’ve scribbled the last 12 months. I write for and covet an audience, especially as an up-and-comer decidedly without one. Without an audience, I’m pretty much Tom Hanks in Cast Away, only my Wilson is a Pikachu piggy bank.
Thank you so much for making the Slog a part of your life, whether this is your first post or your 96th. Happy New Years and may you be the change you seek in 2016.