“I attack the page, struggling like a lion.” That’s how Vincent van Gogh described painting in a letter to his brother Theo. This sentence sits on a Post-it note right above my computer. I see it every day and it reminds me of two things: first, creatively, I need to come to the page with passion, armed with gusto and energy and second, writing isn’t for the faint-hearted: struggle and fierceness are often required.
Of course, van Gogh was an intense – and tense – sort of guy. Struggle was his middle name, even on a good day. But though he was talking about painting, I think he got a big part of what it means to write just right. Sometimes, if we’re super lucky, we have golden moments, or even golden hours, at our desk. But for me at least, just sitting down and tackling the page often involves a battle of sorts – with my mood, my fears, my inertia, my attraction to distraction, my need for busyness, and even, God forbid, my dishes or dry-cleaning.
“The thing you fear most is the thing you want most.” I read that somewhere. The one thing I’ve always wanted, whatever stage of life I’ve been in, has been to be a wonderful writer, to touch people with my writing. And to do that, I need to write. But sometimes that’s the single hardest thing for me to do. Everything in me longs to do it and everything in me resists it at the same time. I’m not sure it’s that way for everyone who writes, but I suspect that it’s true for many of us.
How about you? Do you leap to the page joyfully — or resist it? Does it take you a long time to get your motor going?