Day 31: Thirty-One Days Ago
I’ve been trying for many years to be professionally creative, but it wasn’t until 31 days ago did I start to act the pro.
Since then, everyday I would wake and type through hazy thoughts, knowing that this was my job for the day. Whatever else followed lacked in meaning compared to my few hundred words. I hit publish because a pro shows up. I hit publish even though I was rarely happy with what I was giving the world, even though it needed to be edited, or read! It just had to be read again, and yet I would still hit publish because a pro shows up. A pro shows up. For better or worse, A Pro Shows Up.
They appear daily because they know it is required of them. The muse will not suffer the lazy, and should you miss too many days, she will simply fire you. You will need to start again, start as apprentice, before you can strive up the creative ladder and invoke her unique set of skills.
You must show up daily so that you move forward daily. Too long spent in the same place doesn’t simply leave us stranded, it pulls us backwards. We lose an inch everyday, and horribly, few of us notice the sound of the gravel crunching under our backwards moving feet.
If we linger, for even a moment, we will begin to repeat ourselves. We will no longer do the craft, but simply output the work. We will repeat. We will repeat. We will repeat. We will repeat. The second we linger is the second it happens, the second we start to rely on what we know, what is comfortable, what is sure to work. We will repeat, forever we will repeat.
This is what happens to most of us. We sit and look at the work of others and consider ourselves inspired. I do this constantly and for it I am a constant fool. I think this enough to help me put one foot in front of the other, but if this is the case, I have been walking a treadmill for years.
Until 31 days ago.
31 days ago I started this project.
31 days ago I said “I’m scared, I don’t know what I’m going to do, I don’t know how people will react, I’m going to fuck it up and everyone will see me do it. I can’t spell, I can’t write, I can’t form sentences worthy of heartbeats. I’m scared. I’m scared. I’m scared. I’m scared. I’m scared. I can’t do this, I’m too scared, others will do it better, others will best me, others are better, I’m no one, I’m just me, no one worries about my thoughts. I’m happy enough without this horrible fear eating at me everyday. I’m happy enough today. I’m happy enough. I’m happy enough.”
31 days ago I hit publish. I hit publish because I was sick of this fear of failure gnashing at my insides. So much fear. I was sick of the fear of failure before I started then I found the fear of starting once I had.
But now I’m comfortable with it. Hell, I welcome it. It’s a reminder that I’m even happier, that I’m giving back, that I’m trying. I know now that it isn’t fear as I thought it was but it’s an ache, an ache that pulls on my stomach to be let out into the world as creative effort. If I think of my project at the end of the day and still have weight of the ache pulling me down, then I know I’ve wasted those 24 hours and wasted the days of all those that allowed me to live it. But there’s tomorrow, and I will show up again. A pro always shows up. Through pain and tiredness and distraction, a pro always shows up.
The only thing I’ve done right this entire time is show up, every day. I’ve ignored my process, I’ve ridden my ego, I’ve done what I know I shouldn’t. I took my time for granted. But I’ve worked. Every single day I’ve worked.
This project might be over, but tomorrow I will be back here, at my desk, elating the ache in my stomach to the sound of clacking keys.
Tomorrow the next project starts. I’m not giving myself a break, I’m not giving myself time off to regroup. It might be some days before you see me regularly publishing, but I can promise you I’ll be here. I’ll be here because a pro always shows up.