From One Lifer To Another
By Luke Raftl
I look around the Internet most days and I see tens and hundreds of people just like me: driven, passionate, obsessed; in a word, writers. Some of us are studying, some of us are working two and three jobs, some of us are looking after young children, and I imagine a fair few of us are laid off, unemployed, doing anything we can to follow the dream we all share.
Most of us are in it for the long haul, even if we don’t yet know it.
I received an email a couple of days ago from an ex-girlfriend. We hadn’t spoken in a while (she has been ignoring me in recent times with great skill) and she asked me how the writing was going and what I was working on now. I told her I had finished the first book, was vaguely shopping it around to agents, and had begun working on a second, of which I was relatively and optimistically excited.
In the follow up email she asked:
“Is the plan still to write until you’re thirty and then get a 'real' job?”
She didn’t mean this maliciously, I would often joke that I was going to travel and write until the big three-oh arrived and forced me to rethink my life plan. As I sat there and read her email however I realised that my priorities had changed. I replied:
“Thirty and a real job? I think this is supposed to be my real job. I'll just keep knocking at the door until they let me in.”
I’m not sure when the ‘thirty or bust’ plan was scrapped; subconsciously I guess I made the decision that I was a writer and nothing else months and months ago, but I hadn’t admitted it to anyone except myself until that moment. I realised abruptly that I was in it for life.
One of the reasons I love coming to Paul’s site is because I know that he is in exactly the same position. I sense a kinship that requires no physical introduction. Every time I read one of his posts or correspond with him it is clear to see. The desire burns in him, unquenchable, and once he came to understand his calling in this life it could no longer be ignored. I don’t know if Paul has admitted he is a lifer yet, and I hope he doesn’t find it presumptuous of me to call him out like this on his own site, but a lifer can tell a fellow lifer when they see one, like two members of a secret society passing each other in a crowded street.
We’ll work other jobs in the meantime, we’ll make ends meet, we may even be hugely successful at what we do, but we’ll always have that burning desire, that unmet goal, that ambition that will not die. We’ll keep dragging ourselves to our computers, continue to wake in the middle of the night from a dream and scramble for the pen and paper to jot down a barely legible thought, we’ll endure our limiting and self-sabotaging beliefs. It is inevitable; we’re in it for life.
I called myself a writer the other day in conversation, probably for the first time. It was like saying ‘I love you’ at the beginning of a relationship. It went down well. The addressee showed genuine interest and understanding and encouraged me to follow the path. I feel it was a huge step, coinciding with the correspondence with my ex-girlfriend. My conscious and subconscious thoughts are finally on the same page.
We’ll all have varying levels of success. Some of us will taste publication, some of us will only ever read our work to our loved ones, to our pets, to ourselves, but we’ll never quit. The joy of creating with the written word is our true inspiration, and they’ll probably pry the pen from our cold dead hands. Such is a lifer’s fate.
From one lifer to another, I thank Paul with all my being for the opportunity to post on his site. Without ever having read a word of his work, without having met him in the flesh, he is a burning inspiration for myself and many others.
Keep writing my friend.