Karen Cushman, author of the Newberry-winning young adult novel Catherine, Called Birdy, did not start writing until she was 49 years old. She just never thought of writing as a career opportunity, or at least did not picture herself in that role. In an author’s note from her book’s 20th anniversary edition, she writes, “Writers, I began to think, were people who had all the answers. I didn’t have all the answers; I didn’t even know all the questions.”
I read Cushman’s book for the first time a few months back, and her words struck me mostly because they spoke to a topic I have been considering quite a bit as of late: having all the answers. And not just having them, but also seeking them, craving them, doubting them, and why the heck we want them in the first place.
I’ve thought, “I should write a blog post about this,” more than once during the past several months, but something kept stopping me. I didn’t have all the answers, even the answers about the answers themselves. And like Cushman, most days I don’t even know all of the questions.
I know in my gut that searching for answers is a universal human experience, as is the phenomenon that I like to call “analysis paralysis.” That’s what happens when we spend so much time weighing the options, doing the homework and worrying over the outcomes that we never get started.
In her article “Do Whatever you F*cking Want,” blogger and anti-BS coach Nicole Antoinette has this advice for aspiring writers: “You don’t have to write a perfect first draft and you don’t have to wait until you’ve done more ‘research’ and you don’t have to worry about who’s going to publish it or what other people are going to think because none of that matters unless you just start writing.”
I love this! There is absolutely no point in concerning ourselves with the eventualities if we don’t take the first step.