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The Joy of Digging

As a child, I became convinced that I was going to find buried treasure. I'd walk around the 13-acre hobby farm I grew up on carrying a hand spade until I felt the exact right spot to dig. I'd drop to the ground and spend hours in the hot sun moving dirt.

Sometimes I'd hear a scrape, and my heartbeat would pick up. My brain would immediately triangulate the surrounding area, calculating how wide I'd have to dig to excavate the pirate's chest I'd just hit. The next shovelful inevitably revealed a muddy stone, not gems, but I took it as a good sign and kept on digging.

Reader, I never found treasure.

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At least not the Richie Rich emeralds and rubies I'd been digging for. What I did stumble on was something like a meditative state, a safe and soothing world I could enter at any time and live in the comfort of my imagination.

Writing gives me the same feeling, or at least it does once I actually start digging. That phase before I get my hands in the dirt? It's paralyzing. You know the stories we tell ourselves now, as adults: This is a waste of time. I don't know what I'm doing. I should be cleaning my house and finally learning what the S & P 500 is.

I don't only feel these nerves at the start of a project. I have them every single day before I dig in. And the breakaway success of Unspeakable Things amplified them. Now I not only have the doubts, I have doubts about the doubts. Who am I to have a crisis of confidence?

I'm sharing this with you because I'm officially starting a new project today, and it's unlike anything I've written before. I've spent the morning being upset at myself for how scared I am. That's what made me thing of little Jessie, out there on the farm with her shovel in hand. It was the adventure she loved, the possibility of discovery and connecting with something bigger, the comfort of living in her imagination.

Today, I'm going to write like that. Maybe tomorrow, too. After all, I'm the only one stopping myself.

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