I’m still a kid when I ask him how his sister became a best-selling author. “She writes a little every day,” he says.
And so, I write a little every week.
I tell her I want to write a novel, but she knows I’m a creature of habit. “You don’t want to commit because when you do, you’ll actually have to do it.”
I don’t commit. Yet.
Shortly after the world shuts down and people buy too much toilet paper, I talk about it again with a fellow writer over Facetime.
“I’m going to write a novel,” I tell her. “A little every day.”
As soon as I say it, I want to take it back. It sounds like a death sentence. It sounds like a commitment to imperfection.
And then it’s mid summer of 2020 and I sit on the grass with my friends as a member of the orchestra plays the piano. He’s traveled the world, but here we are together, picking ants off our legs and nodding to Chopin.
One of the reasons I know everything will be okay is the way humans never stop creating. Never stop laying down their ego at the possibility of picking the wrong notes, the wrong words, the wrong samples.
“You have to be okay with failing,” he often tells me.
And so, I keep writing. A little every day.
“Art is essential,” she says. We talk about it all the way down the mountain above Canmore. “It’s like an advertisement.” You look at it and it’s asking you what you think, feel–and what you should do about it.
It’s a relationship: creator to beholder. We look up at the mountain we just climbed and I want to shout: beholder to Creator.
But most days, writing doesn’t feel like a relationship. It doesn’t feel holy. It feels solitary.
It feels like sitting in the witness stand. Tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And you do it. You show up scared and write a little every day.
Some days, writing is like being in the infantry. You stare at the blinking cursor and fight for creativity. You do it scared, a little every day.
Like you show up to a first date, a second and a third. One step at a time.
You go to the funeral. You talk about her memories. You take out her old photos. One stage of grief at a time.
When I finally finish my novel a year and a half after we talk over Facetime, I sit back in my desk chair and stare at the screen for a few minutes.
I’ve imagined what I would do to celebrate, many times. Instead, I go for a run as I do every day. I make dinner. Buy groceries.
Small things. Faithful things. Habits of endurance.
Stamina to break through the finish line.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1