I usually don’t click on list articles that aren’t from Cracked.com, but Navy Seals are frickin’ awesome and when I saw 10 Life Lessons From A Navy Seal I figured what the heck. Number ten really jumped out at me.
#10. If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell
“in SEAL training there is a bell. A brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound for all the students to see.
All you have to do to quit—is ring the bell. Ring the bell and you no longer have to wake up at 5 o’clock. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the freezing cold swims.
Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the runs, the obstacle course, the PT—and you no longer have to endure the hardships of training.
Just ring the bell.”
Being a writer can be a lonely business. When you’re on the bottom tier and you see a lot of your peers succeeding (all after a lot of hard work) it can be tempting to hit that bell. In this case, to push away the keyboard and say “no one would miss me if I just slipped away quietly from the writing community”. I’ve felt that temptation more than once. When that feeling rears its ugly head I have to dig deep and find my motivation.
Some times that motivation is external. I went to Balticon this past week. These are my people. They have my back. They want me to succeed. They are my fans, colleagues, and cheerleaders. They would miss me if I faded away. I know all of this, and yet when more than one of them affirmed my writing I was surprised. That’s not because of anything they did or did not do. I have a very poor sense of self and figure that in spite of their constant support over the years a lot of them are encouraging me not because of anything inherent in me. It’s because they’re awesome people. Whether that’s true or not, they’re there. So I keep writing. The bell remains unrung.
That’s not enough though. It’s a full year between Balticons. And even if there were one a week, there should be more to this whole thing. So, what keeps me going? Why don’t I just tap out? It would mean no more long waits between reviews. It would mean not worrying about getting the daily word count down. It would mean no more pouring over a manuscript looking for that last typo or bit of awkward phrasing. Just walk up to the bell, give it a good whack, and leave it all behind.
You know what else it would mean? No more Ginnie Dare. No more Father Ian. No more Libertarian Wank Fiction. I know there are people who would miss those things, but more importantly, I would miss them. I keep writing because telling these stories creates new worlds. If I didn’t write then these things wouldn’t exist and while none of them may change “the world”, writing them has changed my world for the better. Maybe my writing never will change the world. Maybe it already has. Those things are out of my control. What is under my control? Staying away from that big brass bastard.
In the words of my writing Drill Instructors, I say “MO CHECK!”. You say “WRITE!”.