Sunday, July 29, 2012
So You Think You Can Write
"Writing, I think, is not apart from living. Writing is a kind of double living. The writer experiences everything twice. Once in reality and once in that mirror which waits always before or behind." (Catherine Drinker Bowen, biographer)
"People on the outside think there's something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn't like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that's all there is to it." (Harlan Ellison, science fiction writer)
“You don’t have the vocabulary. You only dance one genre. We don’t know if you are flexible enough,” are common statements from the judges on the show, So You Think You Can Dance.” The dancers have been dancing since they could move. They come before the judges and millions of viewers and dance. They put it on the line because they believe they are good enough. Writing feels like this.
There’s a caveat. I write with self-doubt. I wish my words popped. I ache to write like Annie Dillard or a Frederic Buechner. To have people see through my words. Oh to go deep and write from marrow bone stirring heart not just scratching surface. I compare myself to them and feel I should give up.
Like the dancer I have been writing since I could pick up pen (in the days when pens were used for writing). When I don’t write my soul echoes that of the ancient prophets-fire burns in my bosom and I must get it out. So I write.
Pressfield begins The War of Art by saying, “There’s a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is resistance.” The resistance comes from outside and from inside. The screaming ‘You are not good enough,” and the crying baby all equal. We push back, we carve out time, we get up on toe, we dance, we write.