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Sometimes when I read a book or a blog, I think to myself, I can do that. I can write a book. And I can write a book that’s bigger, and better, AND has way better cover art.
But then most times when I sit to write, I have nothing to say. It isn’t so much writer’s block. I just truly have nothing to say. What do people even want to read?
I could write about myself. I mean, I could always write about myself. I could tell you about the time in first grade we held horse races during recess and my parents came to watch. We were learning Texas history, as all good Americans should, and I wore an Indian vest and cowboy hat. I galloped around those cones with a huge smile, holding tightly to my PVC pipe with a horse head made of an old pillow. My mom helped me make her. She even drew eyes and with long eyelashes to make my horse more beautiful. I lost the race, but I loved my horse. That was all that mattered.
I’m not sure at what age we lost that whimsy about ourselves, whimsy that doesn’t care about winning or losing or having the most beautiful horse. I bet it’s somewhere around fifth grade when they separate the boys and the girls and make us watch that awful video. As I grew up, I stopped playing in make believe lands with my Polly dolls and I started reading about the adventures of Jay Gatsby or Holden Caulfield. I stopped running around pretending to gallop on a horse and I started actually running. I stopped creating and just consumed creation.
Consuming is passive and easy. People who consume have flat screen televisions and a leather recliner in their living room. I imagine they spend most of their time there. They learned a few chords on the guitar, but it hurt their fingers and they thought about moving or traveling more, but the recliner is better. It’s predictable and stable and swallows you until you’re too comfortable to climb out of its smooth grip.
But people who create, struggle. Sometimes we suffer from blaring neck aches from staring at computer screens for too long. Sometimes we don’t sleep nearly long enough, but we put the alarm on the other side of the room so we can’t snooze it. Rarely do we fill our car all the way full with gasoline. After all the struggle, we’ve created something we love and for one brief moment, pride fills our lungs and we stand tall. Then, we’re worried the other kids will make fun of our horse for not being more beautifully crafted or faster. We imagine losing the race and we see the crowds look on us with disappointment.
And there goes our whimsy. It’s tucked away in between the pages of your research paper where you deserved an A, not a B. It’s deleted in instant message conversations where you found out your crush likes your best friend. It’s hanging in the air of the auditorium after you sang your solo but no one congratulated your life-changing vibrato.
Slowly life chisels away at our foolish belief that we can do anything. I can’t write a book better than that. His cover art is impeccable! I will never compare. I will never have as many readers as she does.
But then I thought about that time in first grade when I lost a horse race. I felt like a real cowgirl. It didn’t matter if someone else’s horse won the race or had a more beautiful mane. I, cowboy hat and all, was a cowgirl. I, free WordPress template and all, am a writer.