I’m happy to host Josh Hanagarne here on Storyfix, and not just because he posted a guest article from me earlier this week. Frankly, mine was a fluff piece offered in good fun, while his is a gift of perspective we would all be wise to absorb. This guy has it figured out — combine an expertise that he gives away freely, delivered with wit and personality, all the while extending those ridiculously long arms to the world for a big hug in the process.
Read and learn.
For me, By Me: The Secret To A Writing Success That Still Baffles Me Every Day And May Eventually Blow Up In My Face
By Josh Hanagarne, World’s Strongest Librarian
“Josh, I read every book review you write, even though I don’t like to read. And I read all of your strength and fitness stuff too, although I hate to exercise and don’t have any plans on starting. Keep it coming.”
This was an email I received, a comment on my blog when the little tyke was two months old. I was pretty freaking flabbergasted, but intrigued enough to ask this person what they meant by that.
“Oh, I don’t read your stuff because of what it says, I read it because you write it.”
Just so you know, this person was not my mother or wife, and I didn’t pay them to say it. I’m decidedly unattractive and nobody had any reason to say this to gain my favor. But who cares? If you’re a writer, you probably enjoy compliments. I certainly do. I pretend I don’t love it, but nobody knows the power of a little encouragement going a long way better than a writer or a wannabe writer.
But I did want to investigate what was behind this person’s praise and not just let it carry me away to La La Land. I can’t spend all of my time there.
So here’s what I know.
I love to write.
I love to write even when I hate it. Even when it hurts. Sometimes especially when it hurts. Even when it feels like pulling teeth. And if that’s too cliché for you, how about even when it hurts like pulling teeth out of my eyeballs? I sit here and I stare at this stupid blinking cursor and I start pounding away, just so it will disappear for a few seconds. And then, once I get going, I love it again.
I love to read. And there is nothing I love to read more than a book where I can tell the author had a blast writing it. Read one paragraph of any Tom Robbins book. Love it or hate it, I defy you to tell me that Tom did not enjoy writing that paragraph. I can feel it in every page, sentence, word, and punctuation mark
When I ask myself why someone would enjoy my writing, regardless of the content—and please, I am not comparing myself to Tom Robbins—that’s what I come up with: I love to write and I suspect that it shows.
Born to write?
Nope, not me. I always loved telling stories, but writing them down had very little appeal for me. That is, until I had to give up my voice for three years. As an experimental treatment for what was becoming an unholy, unmanageable case of Tourette’s Syndrome. Long story short, I got botox injections in my vocal cords. I could no longer scream, so I could be out in public again, but I couldn’t really talk either. I could whisper a bit, but not even loudly enough to talk on the phone.
Every five weeks for three years, I got those stupid injections. And it didn’t take long before my inability to tell stories began to eat at me. It was eroding something very fundamental to this big goofy person.
So I started to keep journals. I found that writing was not only a welcome distraction from my symptoms, but a medicine that no joyless doctor was ever going to scratch out onto a prescription pad.
Once the tics were more manageable and I was able to quit getting the injections, I needed the writing for different reasons. It was a healthy process that could not be separated from the person that I had become.
And at the time, I didn’t care that nobody ever read a word I wrote.
Enter The Blog
I started writing World’s Strongest Librarian for fun in April of 2009. For me, by me. Every day I just tried to write something that would make me smile. Not make me money, but just make me smile. I figured nobody would ever find me. The web had other plans. Traffic rolled in and never rolled back out. This has resulted in lots of attention, some money, lots of friends and business opportunities, and the most wonderful literary agent in the world.
In short, for better or worse, I feel like everything good that is happening is happening because I am being myself. I also get a lot of hate mail, which also convinced me that I’m being myself. But most of the feedback is positive. This confuses, bemuses, and amuses me all at once. I do what I like and that won’t change. That other people enjoy it is a wonderful bi-product that is deliriously fun. But it’s never the focus.
For me, by me. I know myself well enough to know that if I didn’t keep my writing for, I wouldn’t keep it.
Whatever you do, I hope you enjoy it. It’s too much work not to.
Get Stronger, Get Smarter, Live Better…Every Day
About the Author: Josh Hanagarne is the twitchy giant behind World’s Strongest Librarian, a blog about living with Tourette’s Syndrome, kettlebells, book recommendations, buying pants when you’re 6’8”, old-time strongman training, and much more. Please subscribe to Josh’s RSS Updates to stay in touch.