Do I Have Permission to Write This?

“people sitting on chairs” by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

It’s time for me to start writing again.

The packing is done, the move is moved, and the unpacking is beginning apace. I’ve even sprained my ankle; my body giving me the perfect excuse to sit down, get back to the computer, and to start writing again.

So I’m sitting down . . . and I don’t know what to do.

I’ve been so dissatisfied with novel writing lately. My first novel did well — for a first novel — but didn’t lead to representation. And while I do love writing, I can’t help but wonder if novel writing is the thing for me. Will the second book sell? Will the third? How long can I spend my time writing books that never go anywhere?

That’s what’s scares me. I’ve already spent so much of my life and have nothing to show for it. Can I really spend the rest of it squirreled away in a dark corner, trying to write novels that go nowhere, with no guarantee that it will ever go anywhere?

That’s what has me thinking about the theatre again. I’ve been flirting with the theatre on and off during my life, again, trying to answer the question: do I really belong here? Do I, this obese, limping, hard-of-hearing, absolutely strange person belong in the theatre?

I love the theatre, and, in one of my favorite books, The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, author Rebecca Wells refers to the theatre as “a home for orphans of all sorts.” But I don’t know. I might be a little too strange for the theatre. I might not still be good enough.

I can see myself spending my life in the theatre, writing plays, composing music. The late nights, the frustration, the rewrites, the love, the joy, the grief, the community, the passion, and the angst. And yet . . . in order to be involved in the theatre like that, I already need to be there. My life is halfway over, and I haven’t even taken the first steps to being that person. And I should be mostly there by now.

Or, at least, I should have some confidence in it.

I was never the person who wrote plays in high school or college. I was never the person who sang my own songs, or demanded center stage. I never had permission to be there. I was always resented for filling up the space I was taking.

And I still feel that now. Gods above, do I feel that now.

I’m not a novelist. I’m not an actor. I’m not a playwright. I’m not an essayist.

I dabble. I swirl around the edges. I think about it. I dream about it. But when I sit down to actually do it, I get the message, loud and clear:

You don’t belong here. You shouldn’t be here. You don’t fit into this world. You’re not good enough for us. So don’t even try. And it’s too late, anyway.

So I’m sitting here with a blank document, at a crossroads in my life. Which world do I belong in? Which world will be mine? Or is it too late to choose?

(He/They) Ninja Writer. Thespian. Queer. Essayist, poet, novelist. “In Search of Sunflowers” available on Kindle now.

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