The more choices I make, the more I understand that the best ones cannot be made intellectually. Take the choice of what kind of story you would like to write. Let us assume your goal in making this choice is to arrive at a place where the stories you write will find the agent, editor, publisher, and readership that will allow you to flourish creatively and financially. There are many paths to this destination: literary fiction, women’s fiction, thrillers, YA paranormal, and on and on.
Perhaps you think, “I know there is a path called YA paranormal that leads to this place called a flourishing writing career. I know it because I have seen the books in the bookstores, and I have watched interviews with these authors on Author magazine.” What’s more, you have heard this path described to you in writing magazines and at writing conference. As you take notes on the sorts of protagonists and antagonists, the types of conflicts and settings and so on that work best in YA paranormal, you believe you are learning how to follow this path toward a flourishing writing career.
And yet in my own life it has never been enough to know intellectually that a path exists, nor has it been enough to have this path described to me—nor, for that matter, to have followed that path once in the past. To follow a path successfully, I must see it for myself at the moment of choice, and the only way to see it, is to feel it. The moment I feel it, the path opens before me, and it does not matter if no one has ever walked it before, or if I have only heard rumors that it exists. If I feel it, I can see it, and so it is clear, and so it exists.
What’s more, until I see a path in this way, I never understand why I am on it, nor do I truly understand why this path will take me somewhere I want to go. No matter how beautiful a destination is made to sound, I know too well that beauty must be seen to be known – and even then, in a crowd of ten thousand surrounding the same statue, there will exist ten thousand beauties. All eyes pointed in the same direction; all eyes on a different path.
Write Within Yourself: An Author’s Companion.
“A book to keep nearby whenever your writer’s spirit needs feeding.” Deb Caletti.