When I was 25 I sat down to write my first novel. I had once been an avid reader of novels. Novels were my church and my state. By the time I tried to write one of my own, however, I had more or less stopped reading for several years. That I wasn’t more interested in reading confused me. Now and again I walked myself to a bookstore in the hopes of rekindling my faith, but on the few occasions I left with a book, it often went unread.
Yet there I was about to write one. I did not have a story I wanted to tell other than the story of how I wanted to write. So I decided to write one of the kinds of books I used to like to read but which I was apparently no longer interested in reading. I did not see any problem with this. Bill Kenower was good at being good at things. He would get good at writing novels he would not himself necessarily read and that would be that. This was an executive decision. This was My Plan.
That it took me fifteen years and six novels to abandon this plan is a testament to my stick-to-itiveness and willingness to endure suffering. The trouble with this sort of suffering is that one can cease to see it as suffering at all and come to call it “reality.” Now you aren’t so much enduring something as creating it, which is perhaps all we ever do.
No matter. Apparently fifteen years was precisely the amount of time I needed to spend carrying something I never wanted in the first place so that I could truly feel the pleasure of living without it. You set it down and in its absence you feel something new and yet as old as you. There you are, you who are light, you who are unburdened, you who are what’s left when the suffering is released.
Write Within Yourself: An Author’s Companion.
“A book to keep nearby whenever your writer’s spirit needs feeding.” Deb Caletti.