Before you can be courageous, there must be fear.
Before you can fall, there must be ascension.
Before you can succeed, there must be a chance to fail.
I recalled a story in the obscure parts of my brain…
We raced down the fiery corridors that was thickened by black smoke. I lost track of how many building codes this place violated, like the lack of fire extinguishers in the hallway and the ventilation system of the building.
Just as I started down the first few steps, the floor above us collapsed, showering fiery shards of wood.
“Holy fuck, we have got to put this in our next training session,” I thought while smirking — a true sign of an adrenaline junkie.
The kid, however, was not thrilled. He grinded to a halt and held his ground
“I can’t go. I can’t do it!” he yelled.
I didn’t blame him. After all, we’re surrounded by burning tinder that must’ve made hell look pretty cozy. Not to mention, the staircase looked like it couldn’t handle two or more bodies.
I knew kids like him. Reminded me a lot of my own boy, just a little more frail though. The dots connected in my head and it made sense — his fear and all.
When I found the kid, he was hiding in the closet on the highest floor of the building, hugging what I guessed was his sister’s stuffed dolls. Maybe his own. I don’t know.
At his age, I would have grabbed my truck, batman figure, or something with a gun. Sigh. Kids, they don’t make em like they used to.
“You can do it, kid; hold onto my hands and run with me!” I yelled back trying to sound convinced myself.
“I can’t. I’m scared!”
Everything — crisping walls, burning ember, and flying ashes — went eerily slow motion as we exchanged our few words amidst chaos
“It’s okay. Then do it scared.”
I sensed his chest puff up a bit along with his spine erecting. Half a second later, he was moving again and we sprinted down the flight of stairs.
He didn’t stop trembling and getting all teary eyed. No, that carried on all the way down. But he saddled up and just fucking did it anyway.
When we ran no more than two steps past the entrance of the building, it all collapsed behind us.
I knew the he had it in him.
Everyday, it’s a new excuse not to write. I grew tired of even my own bullshit.
To put your thoughts and opinions out into the internet. Well, that just sounds like a special stupid to me. I ain’t buying none of that vulnerability junk.
But it’s interesting. Although the answer is clear, I still desperately seek that silver bullet on how to become a better writer.
Every writer I’ve read of still anguishes the process to a degree, no matter how many years they’ve been at it. It doesn’t seem to get any easier.
In fact, sometimes it gets harder. When you write a best seller novel, how the fuck are you going to top that? Life can only trend downward from a feat like that.
Getting to the top is completely different than staying on top.
In spite of all that fear, what the great writers do is still show up. Every fucking day
John Wayne said it best, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”
Usually what we fear most is what we must do most.
Take a look at your life now. What is it that you’re most scared to do? When are you most creative with your excuses?
I’ll tell you some of mine:
Writing: No time. Too tired. Not enough inspiration.
Going to the gym: Don’t have the right shoes. Too late in the day. Need a partner.
Calling the fam: Busy with work. Maybe tomorrow. I’ll see them soon anyway.
We all suck at driving when we first start. I’m not saying you’ll be nascar off the bat, but each time you do it scared.
When you face your own burning staircases, puff up your chest, straighten that spine — after you pick it up — and do it scared.
And if it helps, grab a doll. That’s why I still have some.