Xeno Hemlock


The Zero Mindset

If you told me last year that if I started then I would have a collection after almost a year, I wouldn't believe you. Of course it was common sense. Create now, be consistent, and after some time you would have created more. The math was '4 times 6 equals 24'. If I wrote weekly, after six months I would have 24 articles under my belt. However, fear impaired my vision. The logic was simple but I couldn't grasp it. I was a zero.

I wasn't a graduate of some English major. I never attended a writing seminar. My writing credentials that I wasn't proud of included the high school paper, competing in an inter-school writing competition where I lost, and a fan fiction. I unsuccessfully blogged before but I lost interest and quit. To make everything worse, I was my own enemy. Unjustly comparing myself to other writers (professionals especially), I kept believing I was a zero. 

“If you want to be a writer, write.” This was what most of them said. I scoured the Internet looking for evidence that someone like me could be a writer too. There was an abundance of tips and motivations. It was easy to be inspired but to be truly motivated I had to stop being vexatious to myself. My writing doubts and fears must be put behind me so I could start anew. I reset my journey to zero.

My Muse, after years of separation, reunited with me. On my shoulder, there she was every night feeding me energy and inspiration. I wrote like a fearless voyager, not scared of uncharted territories, not satisfied with discovering one island. Riding on my momentum, one thing was made clear to me - I was no longer a zero.

If you told me that my Muse would never leave me again now that we were reunited, I would've believed you. But she hadn't changed at all. One night in my sleep she left, taking my recreational drugs with her. I had already formed a habit then so I could not abandon writing. I had made a writing schedule that I'd been diligently following for the past few months. I kept on writing despite my creative well almost sucked dry to the bottom. There was one thing that kept me from quitting - I didn't want to go back to being a zero.

The document + messaging app Quip had been my other companion in my writing journey. Even when the app was made with collaboration in mind, I used it by myself like I was my own enterprise. All my drafts, ideas, and notes were written there. I could access it anytime, anywhere - with my iPhone, iPad, or even my PC and Mac. One day, like an unannounced rain in a stretch of drought, a scene appeared to me with the help of Quip. It had been there for quite some time but my four eyes couldn't see it. My Quip desktop lay naked in front of me. The app, which I had been loving for a long time, finally spoke to me, “You've come a long way from being a zero.”

 The current state of my "messy" Quip desktop

The current state of my "messy" Quip desktop

Folders. Green. Red. Blue. Labels. Poetry. Notes. Prompt. I remembered only having two folders and a couple of documents there. I wasn't able to keep close track of time and then I was seeing my work had expanded. There used to be only one document there before. I was seeing more. Whatever lingering leftove r doubts for myself burned to ashes. Who wrote all of these? Someone who used to believe he was a zero.

Heroes. Mark Twain, John Maxwell, Maya Angelou, Stephen Wilbers, Johanna Spyri, Jeff Gerke - these are names of a few of my heroes. Heroes are people who do extraordinary things with value for others. They touch our lives, open our eyes, and teach us a lesson. I don't just admire them, I want to be like them. If there is something that encourages me to aspire to be like them is the truth that my heroes started as zeroes.

Zero, hero. Hero, zero. It's a one-letter change that makes a lot of difference. Am I a hero already? I better not answer this question myself. What I know is it's a long journey where one shouldn't stop. If ever something malevolent crosses my path with the intent of breaking my spirit, one word shall remind me that nothing can be achieved in succumbing to fear. Zero.

Cover image: Horse racing by Paul