False Starts

I had been drinking again. Immersed in my own sorrows, I dove into my world of imagination and darkness, hoping to finally strike gold and capture the thought that would fill the white page in front of me.

I entertained each idea as it came but ultimately, my desire to get drunk got the better of me. That’s the problem with starting, I thought, the first idea is always the most crucial: it sets the pace, puts the wheels in motions, and whether or not the idea stands determines the outcome of the writing.

We all have false starts. Not just in writing, but in life as well. We use the false starts in our lives to trigger our writing. False starts can be tricky: they often suck you in a dark hole, pulling you in as you struggle to keep your head out. But ultimately, there comes a time when they get the better of you, of me, of us.

At that time, we are forced to take a step back and examine our thoughts. We are forced into mourning the death of that great epic that never materialized, or that romance that never truly kindled. We are forced to overcome these false starts and start over.

I have found myself on the receiving end of this predicament several times. But I’ve come to think of it as a blessing in disguise, a gift sent from the heavens above. False starts have flickered in my mind, like a chain of lighthouses safely ensuring the navigation of a ship. They light the way, and as one of them is extinguished another is promptly lit. They trace the course of the writer, the course of the one who chooses to live. Or rather, the one who dares to live. Every day is a false start. But every day is not a false end. For the man who writes and the man who lives are much alike, walking uncertain paths, scaling inestimable heights in the hope of one day reaching the top. As they grapple and tussle with life and themselves they sometimes fall short, fall prey to a false start or a false course. Yet that is what spurs them on, that alone is their drive. For the man and the writer – driven by life and writing – absorb and store the pain of these shortcomings and use them as a fuel to retry. To rebuild. To restart. And only then can they truly achieve what they set out to achieve; only then can they truly overcome their false starts.

I drink again. I feel weak. The booze speaks to me, its voice a gentle lullaby whispering in my ear to turn myself in for the night.
There will be no more wrestling, no more fighting with tonight’s false start. Only surrender. The sweet joy of surrender. The serenity it brings to my core.

But I cannot help but wonder: what if tonight I chose to stay put, to grapple furiously with my mind and extract every shred of thought that lurks in there, in the dark?

What if I decided to reach out for my goal and scale the heights? There would be no stopping me.

For writing, much like life, is rewarding in its own way. Writing responds to the passion and commitment of the writer. Writing answers his calls.

And sometimes, when the writer has hit a false start, writing might just be there – lying in wait, to catch him in his descent, dust him off and put him right back on track.

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