WARNING: This is a no-edit zone…
As human beings, we snip phrases like “S/he’s got the bug.”
We might mean a virus (very much on my mind as one’s laid me low for the past four days) or we might mean an intense interest in something like writing or photography or a desire for a new car.
Having the bug isn’t limited to any one thing, of course. I remember back in high school, one of our children getting the bug on oceanography. He was mesmerized by it and that interest impacted the direction of his life. (The lesson shared is that in some lifelong interests can and do develop early.)
Many of us get the bug to write. It manifests in different ways–blogs, journals, letters, articles, essays, poetry, books–all types of writing. And typically we lean toward writing about things that are important to us.
It is things that interest us that get snagged by our personal radar. As we feed that interest, it intensifies or dissipates. What intensifies grows in importance to us. So if you’re bitten by the writing bug, feed it.
For years when my advice has been sought by writers wanting to know how to tell if they’re meant to write, I’ve said, “If you can quit writing, do it. If you love it, you won’t be able to quit, and that’s the fastest way to tell the desires of your heart.”
Note I didn’t say the desires of your mind. Your intellect. I said, the desires of your heart. That was and is intentional. Because desires of the mind and intellect lack the passion required to maintain the discipline and drive to stick with writing through the hard, lean times. There are always hard, lean times. Neither the mind or the intellect can sustain your attention and focus and dredge the determination required not only to write but to keep writing. But the heart can.
Heart is what gets athletes practicing the thousands of hours when no one is watching. It’s what gets writers to write and rewrite for the fifth or twenty-fifth time that scene or book that just isn’t all it could be. Heart is what keeps the professional doggedly pursuing a dream, long after others write him/her off.
Last night on AMERICA’S GOT TALENT, I was touched by a 72-year-old man who sings like Frank Sinatra. He’s still pursuing his dream of singing in Las Vegas. His mind and intellect no doubt told him long ago to give up on that dream. But his heart . . . oh, his heart stands firm to pursue that dream, and he’s going for it. In his heart, his dream is still very much alive.
Do I believe he will win? Honestly, no, I don’t. But I do pray that he realizes that dream. That someone in Vegas tuning in is touched by his tenacity and talent and brings him to Vegas to sing.
The funny thing about dreams is often they’re achieved in ways we don’t expect. We’re shooting for our dream one way and some other way presents itself. We choose to seize or ignore it, but the opportunity arises. Sometimes subtly, sometimes with the subtlety of a sledgehammer.
The bottom line is to pay attention to what gets on your radar. It might snag the mind or intellect, but it could snag the heart. It could bring you a lifelong love that inspires you and infuses you with passion and drive. It could be the bug…