So my new friend The Mercenary Researcher had a great post the other day and after some conversation I was completely motivated to do this. (I say friend loosely as I really don’t know her for more than the brief exchange we had on a couple of her blogs, but she was totally cool so I’m calling her a friend)
I gave up once. It’s something I vow to never do again. I was young, I don’t know what age. We had just taken a series of standardized tests. I scored well in most of the areas. Reading and comprehension was average. Mathematics were well above average, as usual. Grammar and spelling were slightly below average. I was told “You’ll never write well, you should focus on mathematics.” So I did, just that.
I went through school not worrying about writing. I accepted that it just wasn’t something I was good at. I focused on math, science, and sports. I did well at those and they weren’t that challenging for me. I did well and I found them easy. It was easy for me to excel and achieve adulation in those areas. I enjoyed the multiple plaudits that I received. I saw no reason to take up writing, but I kept thinking about it. It kept creeping back into my mind that it is something I should do. It is something that I could do. But I kept putting it out again, because I knew that I was no good at it.
I went to college and continued the trend. I focused on the stuff I found easy, simple, and attackable. I finished my Bachelors, and that tick, that thing, that something about writing was still stuck in my head. I couldn’t drill it out. I stopped reading though, I stopped doing anything remotely related to what I thought writers did. I started to work in the real world. I took job after job, I took the easy jobs, the ones I could excel at with little effort, because that’s what I knew and that’s where my experience was. At some point I decided to get into a Masters program.
I started it for the same reasons that I undertook everything else. I thought it would be easily achievable, that I could do well without trying. I was wrong, oddly enough that does happen. It was a lot of reading, research, and most of all writing. It was difficult at first. But this time, instead of discouragement, I received positive advice and influence. I received motivation. I was told that it wasn’t great, but that it could be. I finished graduate school with an MBA and an MS in Management and winded up with a new career in an entirely different field that continues to challenge me, and I love it.
Something else funny happened though, after I finished school. I started to read, not just a little bit, but a lot, a whole lot. I couldn’t get enough. I would read five or six books at a time. The library became my best friend. I would go every week and haul out stacks of books. When that wasn’t enough I started reading online. News stories, blogs, articles, social networks. I read and I read and I read. Then that old thought crept into my head again, about writing. Only this time I didn’t put it out of my mind. I let it sit there, I let it permeate, I brewed it like so many tea bags. I accepted it. I knew that I needed to become a writer.
There isn’t much that I’ve learned in this life, compared to all that there is to know. But what I’ve found is that if something is difficult it is usually a worthwhile pursuit. Not that one shouldn’t chase the easy stuff sometimes, there’s nothing wrong with achievement. But one shouldn’t give up on the difficult stuff either. Because fulfillment, real, solid, life altering fulfillment, doesn’t come from conquering the easy. It comes from knocking down those who tell you that you can’t do something, and doing it anyway. I gave up once. It’s something I vow to never do again.