I’ve always been a passionate guy. Throughout my life, those passions may have changed significantly over time, but I’ve never ceased to be passionate. Just a few of my passions have included:
- movies (making, watching, writing…)
- music (writing, listening, making, guitar, drums, recording…)
- my faith
- student affairs
- writing (poetry, fiction, non-fiction, academic…)
- many, many different career opportunities
Now, most of these have been themes in my life, or at least versions of themes in my life. For example, my faith is something that (though waning at times) has been a stronghold in my life for 20+ years and something that I hold deareest to my heart. Women, would obviously now be “woman”, as I am now a happily married young man. And academics, would now manifest itself in a more career-based, educational aspect of those academic goals and disciplines I was so passionate about when I was in school.
My point is¹, most people can name at least one thing in their lives that they’re passionate about. Hopefully, if you’re one of the lucky ones, you get to take part often in the thing you’re passionate about; whether it’s your job, your career, or just a constant hobby, you get to enhance and grow that talent and love of yours on a consistent basis. That’s awesome.
What’s not awesome is how often these passions go disavowed, unfed, and forgotten.
I love writing. Love it. If I were stranded on a desert island with only 3 things (fun game, btw), I’d take an large stack of paper, a bunch of pens and probably a Bible (or maybe a laptop with a solar-powered battery…anyway, the point is I want to write on the beach, ok?!). I first realized I enjoyed writing in Dr. Bruce Baloian’s Exodus/Deuteronomy class at Azusa Pacific University. It was hell. It was my first semester in college and it was one of the hardest times in my life. We had papers due each week in his class and each one was way above me. I remember walking out of 45-minute class sessions and not knowing what we talked about.
We had a huge research paper due at the end of the semester. In it, we needed to outline a few verses of a passage from Exodus. I still remember the day he gave us the 10-page packet of instructions for the outline. It was the most overwhelmed I’d ever been academically as well as intellectually. I worked my butt off writing, researching and praying for that paper. It was 18 pages of the hardest I’d ever worked on one project. Two weeks after we turned it in, I got it back. I got a 54% on it. It was the lowest grade I’ve ever received up till that point or ever since on any test, quiz or exam.
Now, that may not seem encouraging to a writer. But what it taught me was the art of re-writing.³ You see, he gave us the opportunity to re-write the entire paper, using his copious amounts of scribbly, red notes. I edited the whole thing, and got an 87% on it. Yeah. I know, right?
Two years later, after slowly realizing how amazing writing (and re-writing) could be, I switched over to my English major. It was there where my passions grew and my skills were honed (thanks to Okamoto, Glyer and Esselstrom).
Six months after graduating (I have the diploma to prove it), I decided to take part in NaNoWriMo. It’s a month-long writing movement (for lack of a better word) that helps novice writers get a manuscript written. The idea is to write about 2,000 words a day starting on November 1st, and then by the end of the month, you have a very rough draft of a 50,000 novel. It’s a controversial idea, in the sense that it’s a very crappy novel at that point, but the movement began–or at least it’s used as this–as a way to unite writers, keep them accountable to writing, and to finally get that pesky manuscript written. The book won’t be finished, but the majority of it will at least be written.
Long story short, I ended up completing all 50,000 words that month. That was two years ago. About two weeks ago, my wife started reading through it and gave it to me on Saturday, with great notes. I spent about two hours working on that novel over the past 700+ days. Seven hundred days. That’s a lot of days to not work on something that you tell everyone you’re passionate about. What’s up with that?
I love writing, yes, but what does that mean? What’s the endgame there? I’m no Michael Crichton, and even if I had the skills to be a decent novelist, the odds of me making a living off of creative writing about as slim as my one-man boy band hitting it big.
I try to be a very honest person, to the point of being very negative at times. So when it comes to maintaining my passions, and honing my skills and talents (whether that’s with writing, or practicing drums/guitar, or even working on my career aspirations at times), I tend to discourage myself to the point of abandonment.
I love to write, sure, but why am I so scared to even begin to do so?
What’s the point of being passionate about something I know will never help myself or my family?
Does the health of release of such a valued passion outweigh the fear (and actuality) of constant failure?
Why continue to be so passionate about something I continue to fail at?
Continued in Part II…
¹Ben Helms favorite/overused phrases: “my point is…”, “at the end of the day…”, and “farfignewton…”
²A skill I still consistently neglect
Originally posted on November 16, 2011