embers

***

Recent attempts at writing, some of which have been posted here, have highlighted two very important facts in my life which i have been struggling to come to terms with over the past week. First, i have come to think, mostly because i feel like i am stumbling around in the dark as far as longer fiction is concerned, that i am probably going to need to return to school in order to effectively hone this dastardly evasive art. This is a bit discouraging to me, for a few reasons. i have done that a few times in the past and failed, and it seems a bit embarrassing to admit that i am considering doing it again, and also, though i know this is entirely irrational, i feel that i am starting to be too old to begin that journey anew. Additionally, i had rather hoped that i might be able to make a legitimate crack at vocational writing on my own due to what i felt was my natural bent. Obviously, these reasons can all be chalked up to pride. i am too proud to admit i need to study with those who have more knowledge and expertise, and too proud to start my education over. But that is precisely where humility steps in and sets my thinking straight. “When i have started a sum the wrong way, the sooner i admit this and go back and start over again, the faster i shall get on. There is nothing progressive about being pigheaded and refusing to admit a mistake.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity) i do not know how i am going to proceed from here, but if i have any intentions of writing seriously and professionally, it is going to require more than mere talent. Ashamed as i am to confess it, my confidence in my abilities was roughly the equivalent of a man with a strong arm who can drive a nail into wood in one stroke declaring that he is going to build a house. Obviously, to the onlooker, the construction is going to require more than raw strength; even if that is a helpful place to begin, it is hardly sufficient to make one competent.

So clearly, my road is not going to be as rosy as i first thought, and may require not just a few months worth of kitschy blogs but genuine work and dedication. And this is the second fact about my life. Just the mere thought of going to school or studying for several more years not only causes my pride to bristle, but frankly, if i may confess, makes me want to chuck the whole idea. i am not sure why i expected it should be otherwise, and now that i am seeing plainly it surprises me that i ever had any other idea of what this would be like. But it obviously makes no sense to give up just when things appear difficult. No one who ever accomplished anything of worth did so without trial. in fact, it is only through trial that virtue or skill can be sharpened at all. i forget the original source, but i am relatively sure it is Lewis who asserted the following, though likely more succinctly and poignantly. Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather that which causes us to act bravely in spite of it. Likewise, perseverance cannot be the absence of the desire to quit under duress, but it is the thing which compels us to go on despite lacking the will. Up to this point, i have not had to demonstrate perseverance or dedication, because i have just been popping out tiny nuggets of writing based on simple thoughts i have stored for months and years. But this is mere kindling: it will not burn hot enough nor long enough to warm us. At some point, once the fire is begun, we will have to step out into the dark and into the foreign forests to find hardwood, and this obviously involves leaving the comfort of the small fire we have already started. But if we do not do so, we shall only find ourselves in the cold dark that much sooner.

i am not sure how from here i will proceed, whether it be school or some other means of study. i only know that i will proceed, despite the fact that the odds may not be as highly stacked in my favor as i first imagined. Perhaps, this was what God intended me to learn all along.

***

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.  – E.E. Cummings

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.   – Winston Churchill

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”   – Atticus Finch, in To Kill a Mockingbird

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4 thoughts on “embers

  1. ‘But this is mere kindling: it will not burn hot enough nor long enough to warm us. At some point, once the fire is begun, we will have to step out into the dark and into the foreign forests to find hardwood, and this obviously involves leaving the comfort of the small fire we have already started. But if we do not do so, we shall only find ourselves in the cold dark that much sooner.’ This is beautiful.

    I just want to remind you that even Lewis was a student for many years, and later as a successful writer, surrounded himself with writing friends to keep himself sharp.

    I believe in you!

    Like

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