arbitrary victories

His googly eyes!This is my Phoenix.

From the outside, it is hard to imagine why I’ve done the thing I needed to do in order to get him. I know it is. But he equals one hundred days of writing. Around 85% of those days are work on this book, maybe a little more.

I could go on and on about why writing this book is different from writing a blog post, which I’ve done for more than ten years under various usernames. In fact, someday I will want to, because I want to figure out why I struggle with writing conflict when we all know that fiction must have conflict. And me? I do everything I can to avoid conflict in my day-to-day life, so learning to do it on the page has been a real struggle.

The little red bird stands for something outside my book, if you’ll bear with me for a second. You see, I quit things. It’s part of who I am. Not a good part, and not the worst thing about me, either, but it’s there. This is something I did not quit. Yes, some nights I did one night’s writing at eleven pm and then did the next day’s writing when the clock turned over at midnight, but I don’t think that matters. One hundred times in a row, starting from the day we got home from our Easter break in April.

I know enough of myself to know that if 750Words didn’t exist, I would not have all those thousands of words toward a book. I would have gotten away from it, and this I have learned from years of halfheartedly trying to write—the longer I stay away from it, the less I want to reopen the file and have all my mistakes, cliches, and awful sentences taunting me, saying This is what you’re capable of, only this. The part of my brain that creates that self-talk lies. I know where it comes from; I’ve lived with it intimately since I was a child. It’s hard to carry around a liar with you like a conjoined twin, especially when it’s jealous. It’s made everything more difficult, made every small victory seem useless. In some ways, having that insulting mental soundtrack in my head has done more damage to me than any of the obvious hard things I’ve lived through, like losing my mother and brother—those losses are truths, at least, no matter how unbearable they are to wake up to every morning.

So I insult it back. I plunk my Phoenix here for internet posterity. You can laugh at it if you like; I’m fully aware that it’s silly to care this much about a clump of red and orange pixels. But I’d rather care about them and accomplish something than quit once again. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some writing to do.