If you want to understand more of the struggles and difficulties of an accomplished writer hard at work in his craft, the journal is a great resource.
The ideas do not just apply to writing, but to any work, any craft, that is worth devoting ourselves to. Writing a novel is similar to writing a better story with our lives.
In the book, I came across one quote that most would skip over as insignificant, but the implications of the statement struck me.
The callus on my finger is getting sore. It has grown too large.
Of course, at that time, everyone wrote with a pen and paper. Steinbeck wrote so much that it showed.
He didn’t just have a finger, but a writing finger. The one the pen utilized for the transfer of words and phrases and beauty from his brain and imagination onto a piece of paper.
And this writing finger had been used so much that a large callus had formed. And even on a professional writer, it was sore.
If the callus could just magically appear, more people would have them. It isn’t the thickened skin that bothers us, it’s the process of developing the scar.
When we seek to do remarkable work, taking on risk, calluses will form.
In the beginning the work feels good because the friction takes time to build. We feel like we have hit our stride, impossible to slow down. But with time, the friction adds up.
Our efforts will meet resistance. Obstacles will get in the way. Reasons to give up and play it safe will emerge.
Our skin becomes raw and blistered. The forming callus painful and bloody.
Some of the resistance may come from outside sources. Family, friends, coworkers.
But the worst of it, the part that creates the most friction, will come from within.
You will get in the way of your work. Your brain will instinctively tell you to play it safe. To avoid this process. To keep your skin clean, soft, and smooth.
At some point everything in your being will tell you to stop. To avoid the callus.
Fighting through the resistance creates friction. Persistance despite friction forms the callus.
The callus is a sign of a warrior, a professional.
You need the callus. It can only form through work. Time. Persistence. Pain.
If we stop when the skin begins to bleed, it will certainly heal, but we will be unchanged from the experience.
If we try to protect our skin from the friction, this protection will become a crutch. Something we depend on to do our work.
If we push through, the callus will form and we will have the mark of one who loves the work.
Once the callus has formed and matured, then it is yours and nothing can take it away.
In your work of living a better story, in pursuing your dream, have you formed any calluses?
Tell us about the friction in the comments.