I wrote yesterday about a writer’s desire, and how it alone will guide your though when the waters get rough. I would like to be clear, however. When I speak of desire, I have a tendency to do so in lofty language. You may think, “He is not writing about me. I only want to tell a really cool story; I don’t need to know the meaning of life.” To which I say, I am absolutely writing about you. There is nothing wrong with wanting to tell a really cool story. If that is your truest desire, then define cool for yourself in your heart, and write on. My only wish for you is not that you write something that will top the New York Times bestseller list, or win a Pulitzer prize, or garner you a fat publishing contract—my only wish for you is that you keep your attention squarely where it belongs, on the pulse of what interests your most.
The point, from me to you, is not what you are writing. Author does not endorse any literary aesthetic. Yes, I love certain kinds of books and poems and stories, but what I love most of all is to be around people doing what they love. Nothing has ever inspired me more. People doing what they love is like a fire burning in a forest. We get around these people and think, “I want that too!” And so the spark of that other person’s desire, which is not our desire specifically, nonetheless leaps across and begins to burn within us.
If I had a magic wand, I would touch the forehead of every friend and stranger I met, and each lucky person would from that moment forward do only what they love most. Lacking this, I seek the fire that burns the brightest for me. That fire requires fuel, and it’s only fuel is my attention. If I pull my attention from it, if I send my attention into the void of other people’s opinion, or the opaque future, the fire dims, and does neither me nor anyone I know any good. So I turn my attention back where it belongs, turn it back and trust that what warms me and lights my world is bright enough for others to see.