Blink. Blink. Blink. The cursor on your monitor flashes at you expectantly, almost impatiently. Suddenly you are five years old again, and your mom is standing in the doorway with her hands at her hips, tapping her toe like only a late mother can, as you frantically stuff the Lego’s she "told you to start picking up 15 minutes ago," back into the big blue bucket. You pause for a fraction of a second, doting on one of your creations, and she pulls out the big guns: your full name. Nothing turns a lollygagging child into an organizational genius better than their own handle, broken down monosyllabicly with terrifying inflection.
You stare at the blank wordprocessor page on the screen, it’s emptiness overwhelming. Though it seems like forever ago, you can still remember a time when that white glare was your friend, a blank canvas of limitless potential where your words seemed to come to life as easily as one of Bob Ross’s half-hour masterpieces on The Joy of Painting. You wrote with reckless abandon, the stories picking up where a certain crash landing forced your body to leave off. And you scoffed at the term "writer’s block," because something like that would require taking yourself seriously, which just wasn’t your style. Life was nothing but happy little trees. But now? Shit.
Now you’ve been recognized. Now you have an audience. Now you have an agent. Now you’re a writer, and your twisted little brain has somehow taken all this encouragement and praise and transformed it into suffocating pressure that is choking off that link between your voice and this empty page. The overactive mind that you once relied on has now become your worst enemy, overanalyzing every fucking word that comes out of your mouth. Instead of pouring out your thoughts all at once, you edit as you go, trying so hard to craft every sentence so perfectly that you just wind up frustrated after one paragraph and ultimately give up.
You’ve been avoiding your site altogether lately because the mere thought of writing nearly induces a full-blown anxiety attack. Every time you do happen to open the page, you are overcome with confusion, self-doubt and, of all things, fear. You can’t help the feeling that there’s a book locked somewhere deep inside of you that you will never be able to get it out, and you’re going to wake up 20 years from now only to realize you’ve missed out on a huge opportunity and wasted an even bigger talent. You read your old stuff, and think to yourself, what happened to that guy?
So when your agent e-mailed you a while back about a 12-week online memoir writing workshop starting next Wednesday, you were initially intrigued. But that feeling proved fleeting as you began reading the course syllabus: "By the end of class, students can expect to have: an outline, 50 pages of a memoir and the knowledge they need to approach literary agents and/or publishing houses." Yeah right. You’re having enough trouble getting a five paragraph blog out once a month, what makes you think you’ll suddenly spit out 50 pages or so in three? Fortunately, your agent has a lot more faith in your writing than you do.
She tells you this is a chance to recapture the voice you miss so much. Put your blog on hold for a while, get rid of all that pressure and maybe, just maybe, you’ll find a way back to you. Could it wind up being a complete waste of three months and six hundred bucks; or the very answer you’ve been looking for? You’ll never know until you try, right? You realize she has a point (and that she rocks), and sign-up for the class.
For the majority of your life, sports were your art… now, you need to start treating your art as a sport. If you can figure out a way to push your mind like you pushed your body all those years, maybe one day you’ll look back on all this as just a phase. You take one last look at the cursor, close your eyes, and start to talk…