I used to turn my writing into a problem. There I would be, writing along, enjoying myself, translating scene after scene and thought after thought into words, lost in the dream of the story, the blank page a friendly, fertile field for whatever I wished to grow – until I came to a point where the way ahead was unclear. Such is the nature of writing. Discovery remains the writer’s first reward, and clarity is always most satisfying when found within the fog of uncertainty.
So I would sit, still happy to be on this journey, considering my many, many options. This is the moment where discipline is required. It feels good to be moving swiftly within the momentum of the story. How effortless creation feels within that current, and how aware I am of the support the current provides, buoying and sustaining me with the next thought and the next thought and the next thought. What a relief compared to the hurly-burly of my workaday life.
It is easy then to mistake the necessary stillness of a creative mind for inaction, and inaction for abandonment, and abandonment for failure. Now, my story has gone from a journey I wish to take to a problem I must solve. It is a problem because I have put myself in jeopardy. Until I begin moving again I am living under the threat of failure, which to the writer’s mind is like living under the threat of death. How tempting to leap on the first thought that comes along simply to escape the quicksand of failure.
Yet stillness is the only state from which I can perceive the movement of my story. Stillness is both my invitation to my imagination and my acceptance of its reply. It has taken me many years and many false escapes from a false death to understand that problems do not exist within the garden of creation. If I can remember this simple and enduring fact then no way is ever blocked to me. But if I forget, then my garden appears full of dragons and thorns, and my choices are like a game of Russian roulette where every loser is forgotten.
“A book to keep nearby whenever your writer’s spirit needs feeding.” Deb Caletti.
You can find Bill at: williamkenower.com