With just three Medium articles and a tweet from a friend, Matt Schlicht blew my mind. And it wasn't even about the impressive resume of creating products and landing himself on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list twice.
Reading his third of three week-old articles on Medium, How to Meet The Rich, Famous, and Powerful While Sitting on the Toilet, I realized I was going down a bad path. Schlicht's raw, experience-flavored words reminded me of the writing I crave and devour when I get my hands on it. He was writing for an audience about what he loves: product creation. It may not be the most sexy or compelling of topics for all but Schlicht makes it sexy and compelling.
What I've started to find making the tentative move from this public journal of gathered ideas to a more public service content provider was a closer relationship with what I need to do. When I felt most inspired writing was when I was able to grab from the corners of the world of content, consuming others' ideas all around me, and delivering up my take for others to chew on. It was up close and personal, at best, and a sweaty exercise in questioning myself, at worst. I was bench-pressing words for my small world.
With the limp launch of Stories to Tell People at Parties, I found the theme was compelling but my heart just wasn't in it. The idea was to deliver stories to the quiet and interesting that would flourish into conversations more than small-talk. I couldn't sell myself down the river to keep a daily blog of stories for other people to tell for the hell of it. I felt like a content-cranking machine. This is no way to write. Where is the heart? Where am I?
Enter uncomfortable humiliation.
What writing should be is something to be floored about, even to write on a daily basis, whether or not someone sees it. E.B. White, author of Charlotte's Web, may have said, "A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper," but I have to argue that a writer without passion to write from his heart is no better than the dust on his keyboard.
And we know what they say about moments like these? Failures make the man and we all learn from them.
I think it has been important to take some time and really comprehend what's going on here. After all, I did break open a new project for the people around me and quickly retreat in defense. Is it all about doing what you love or is it about stepping out to take some painful risks? Is it vulnerability? Is it art?
I found myself turned back to Schlicht, wondering what he could tell me to unlock my mind from this frustrating sickness of my own poor self-esteem. What magical words could he give me and just me? And yet therein lies the beauty of this interconnected world. He could deliver me or anyone else a nugget of truth or questioning enough to turn the tides of our thinking. His words are his gift, just like anyone else strong enough to build something.
We have to figure it out for ourselves. That's the rough stuff. Will writing make me miserable? I can't be sure. But, boy, do I feel good writing these words as they come out and feeling the cool breeze come through my window. It's the freedom from an obligation that just makes no sense. While I may have wanted to deliver Stories to Tell People at Parties, my heart wasn't there quite yet. And where it is may be the path to true love.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to read this and any other collection of words I've crammed together through our friendship. It means so much to me that you would take the time to step into my brain and walk around. Somewhere in there I'll be able to pump out something of use to someone so they don't have to hack through the times that threaten our very best work. Something in us is important to someone else and I'm bound to find it.
Until next time...
I explode into space.