Catalyzing

Today was a day like any other. Spent an hour and a half in the morning working on the structure of a forthcoming novel. Black coffee, no cream or sugar. Fasted until about noon, then made myself a veritable feast of premade breakfast burritos and fresh blueberries and granola in Greek yogurt—and more coffee. Very dark chocolate. Design craft dominated the waking hours. A late afternoon walk with my wife along a sunny street, some reading on the storytelling craft, some correspondence with friends and family.

Typical day, really.

What was different about today was that I shared something. Published something. I don’t usually do that, you see, despite constantly producing short fiction. But today, I shared a piece I wrote a few months back called Skewer and Feed, and it feels like something has been knocked loose, set free, come unblocked.

I had a beer with a friend yesterday, and he had some tough questions for me. He knows I am a writer, and he knows I am longing to become an author—a novelist—and as we threw back our Bavarian beers he threw down a gauntlet: You need to publish.

He wasn’t talking about finding an agent, working with an editor, landing a book deal, touring the country—none of that. He was saying simply, Share. Share what you have created. Send it out, free of intention or expectation. Free of the need to be precious and free of the need for it to be anything at all. Just share.

Back in 2014, I took advantage of a lapse in my career (and some severance pay) and traveled alone to the deserts of New Mexico and Arizona. While there, I encountered myself: as a storyteller, a writer. that was who I wanted to be. But I also uncovered a few mantra, new words to live by as I wandered into a new and unknown phase of my professional life.

One of those mantra was, “create and share, and create and share again.” Well, I got to be pretty good, and more importantly, I got to be very consistent about creating. But for some time, I have neglected the other half of this mantra, which is to share.

In reconnecting with my friend after a difficult year,  one thing was still true: P——— was still not afraid to speak his mind, perhaps even less so than before. His scathing rebuke (ok, maybe it was not so cruel, just honest) of my negligence in sharing my work was not the critique I wanted to hear, but it was what I needed to hear.

And so, on this otherwise typical day of coffee and design craft and the very insular and difficult but private and safe work of structuring my novel, I have taken a step I am proud of, put something out into the world. And even though few will read it, it is powerful and catalyzing, and it feels like a chemical reaction is taking place inside my belly.

Catalyzing

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