This is for real

So I'm doing it: I'm going to endeavor to do more than write as a hobby. I'm going to start a journey to craft stories for publication.

I have always privately worn the label "writer" as part of my identity, but I am extremely cautious to allow that label to show. And now, as a 35-year-old man, I'm finally allowing myself to wear the label publicly.

I have a good life, one that has taken twists and turns and gone in unexpected directions, all of them leading me to places of what I believe are incredible blessings. I consider myself very blessed to work in full-time ministry and help at-risk kids gain confidence in their learning. And for many years, that's been enough for me to feel fulfilled. It's been a passion and a motivator, and has taken up all of my creative and emotional energy.

Then, something happened this past month. I got sick.

A flu bug. Laid up for a couple of days and took time off work.

To kill some time, I posted the first chapter of a novel draft on an online writing feedback community. And I got some very positive feedback.

It felt a little bit like I'd awoken something that has been dormant in me for many years. All of a sudden all I could think about was writing. All I could think about was getting my stories out. That writer self I'd locked away and fed bread and water had broken out of the prison and was demanding gourmet meals.

So I bought a domain name. I started a new blog (this one). I wrote five chapters on a manuscript in five days. I wrote two more in a week. I listened to writing podcasts when I wasn't writing. I researched publishing companies that accept unagented manuscripts. I researched self-publishing resources. I researched literary agents. I wrote critiques of other people's writings and offered mine up for critique. I embraced that writer and fed him, and some meat appeared quickly on his bones.

I don't think I'll be able to imprison him again, but I'm scared of him. He's gotten very strong very quickly, and seems to be taking over my life.

To be honest, I'm really frightened by this disruption. To strengthen this guy is to disrupt the fairly steady and predictable life (which, if you knew the context in which I live, may sound like a very inaccurate description) I have right now. Can I keep the writer alive and still work in this ministry full-time? Will he need more of my mental and emotional energy than I have to give? If I give that energy to the writer, will I have enough left for ministry, and if I give it to ministry, will I have enough left for writing? What if I start meeting with "success" as a writer? What if I can't do both?

I guess these are questions that will get answered along the way. But one thing I'm sure of: I was born to write. I have to do it, one way or another. And we will see where that will take us.


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