Writing has never been about having something to say. It’s never been about financial success or building an audience.
It’s a disease.
The first time it hit me, I was sitting at the gym, scrolling through my phone in between bench press sets. Surrounded by sweat, heat, and metal, my finger stopped on an article from a student reflecting on his college experience.
Without hesitation, I packed my small duffle bag and drove home.
It was as if the sky had opened up and someone grabbed my soul with their fist, dragging me to the laptop in my room.
Then I sat down and wrote a terrible, cringy story about my days in college topped off by a clickbaity headline. Then another one on marketing. This went on day after day, month after month, topic after topic.
I started jotting down little vignettes on bits of scrap paper and notecards everywhere. It was a way to watch the world, remember, record, and share from my own perspective.
My new obsession turned me on to Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem, and Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. Authors that showed me you could delicately walk the line between fiction and nonfiction by retelling stories to shape your truth.
By day, I’d work in a miserable little office surrounded by fluorescent lights and ego-obsessed salespeople.
By night, I’d write. Some people think it’s a romantic pursuit. That we sit in boutique shops sipping on lattes or drinking large quantities of wine until we’re struck by creativity.
The truth is, it’s a complicated affair. There are critics. There’s not much money. Fleeting fame. Lots of failures.
Even if something pops off, you’ve got to wake up the next day and do it all over again. But this is what separates hobbyists from professionals: a consistent, never-ending pursuit through the good and bad.
If the act of writing isn’t enough for you, you’re destined to fail. I got my start writing because I couldn’t not do it. I couldn’t not find meaning in my life through words.
Years later, the drive is still there.