Is this the kind of life I would've chosen, had I known the sheer difficulty of living a life that's paycheck-to-paycheck and, more often than not, dependent on one's family for shelter and food? No, it's not. Don't get me wrong. I knew it was going to be difficult - I imagined eating plain white bread for weeks and living alongside rats in a dilapidated flat with only my books and pens for company (romantic, but hey ho). What I hadn't accounted for, however, were certain features in my psyche that hindered a more enthusiastic, fearless participation of the game - namely, my self-doubt, my stubborn pride, my fear of hard work.
I like to think I'm diligent - except that when I look at the work I do and the disciplines I practise, I know that I am not as diligent as I'd like to be. I like to think that I'm sufficiently talented without hard work - but that is not true. I notice how rusty I am after a hiatus from writing, how unfamiliar the words feel as they bleed from my fingers - they feel like work, hard work. I like to think that the only reason my books haven't been read by a thousand people, is because I haven't had time to write them, when really, the truth is that I find excuses not to write, because it's easier than getting frustrated with my own work.
Which happens more than you'd think. As gratified as I am by my own writing, more frequently I face rickety sentences, limp characters, and directionless dialogues. Each of these I take as a reflection of the quality of my work - at the end of the day, when there are too many choppy phrases and awkward cliffhangers, I feel like a fool for thinking that writing could be anything of a career for me.
But - God - how much time have I wasted in being too afraid? Afraid of frustration, afraid of not feeling good enough, afraid of the sheer amount of research that goes into making a worthwhile story, afraid of my own shame when friends of family ask, 'So what are you doing now?' ( I don't know, I want to say, I don't know but I'm figuring it out, I'm trying this thing and I hope this thing makes not knowing okay ). I'm ashamed of not being financially independent. I'm ashamed of how incompetent I feel in this world, how it feels like every year I am only growing more aware of how ignorant I am. I'm afraid of getting it wrong and making mistakes, and yet I still seem to, no matter how hard I try and avoid the potholes.
But if people like me, who want to be scrupulous and authentic and true to one's greater destiny, cannot take up the challenge and say, Yes. I'll do this. I'll put my hands to the mill and grind beans and nuts into flour, and make batter from scratch. If people like me don't say Yes, then what are we for, really? What are we for, if not to live out the passions of those who are unable to, if not to symbolise that some kind of redemption is possible?