Thanks to the fickle magic of Twitter, I came across a quote that seemed especially meaningful to me right now. It’s from my favorite literary badass, Junot Díaz.
Díaz spent ten years writing the book that would eventually win him the Pulitzer Prize. This quote makes me wonder if there was a moment, or many moments, within those ten years when he really believed nothing showed any sign of promise, when he felt there was no hope.
I wouldn’t be surprised. Writing is hard, and my journey has been more difficult and humbling than I could have imagined. But Díaz kept at it, and so have I. Not because I think if I keep trucking at it maybe I’ll turn out something that could win a Pulitzer. But because I believe there’s value in the act of creating something from nothing.
I had a friend years ago with whom I’ve unfortunately lost touch. He would sometimes talk about his wife, an artist whose creative endeavors he always supported and encouraged. He told me once, “I honestly believe that even if she never sells a painting, the world is a better place because she made art.”
Maybe there’s something to that. It’s not “making the world a better place” in the way taking reusable shopping bags to the grocery store is, but by creating something that wasn’t there before, maybe we’re making our small corner of the world a little more beautiful.
It takes trust, not just to craft a story from nothing but imagination, but to commit to it. To believe it exists and believe it matters. When deep in your heart you feel nothing shows a single sign of promise, when you have no hope and you leap anyway, then you are a writer.
And if you are a writer, you know as well as I do that no matter how hard you fall, you won’t be able to stop.