Sometimes, particularly before I begin my day’s work, I am afraid of my stories. It is an odd thing to be afraid of—this something I am dreaming up that when I enter fully feels very much like falling into love—and yet I am afraid of it all the same. Of course, love itself has this effect on people. To love someone else always requires a part of you to surrender, just as one must when falling backward into a pool of water. You are surrendering not to you loving her or her loving you, say, but rather to that which you both love that exists between you. It may seem like a niggling differentiation, but it is why one must surrender, because what you seek both exists and doesn’t. I can touch my wife but I cannot touch that which I love. And while I may love my story, it doesn’t exist outside of me until it is done, and it never will be done—not honestly, anyway—unless I can return to it, and return to it, and return to it.

The only condition under which the story will not have me back is if I am afraid. In this way, my pre-writing fear is always a self-fulfilling prophecy: You see? I knew it wouldn’t be here for me today. I would write up colorful story maps or character diagrams, something solid I could look at and touch, if I thought it would help, but—for me at least—I know it won’t, no more than a diamond ring will buy a marriage.

Eventually, I always surrender, and when I do it seems as if it isn’t the story itself I love at all, nor my wife, nor my children or friends or any one thing at all. Once I surrender there is simply love—that which from any vantage is called everything. And you know as you surrender that you will vanish within it, because it is everything including you, and it is the disappearing you fear because it feels like death, which it is, until you see exactly how alive you are at that moment.

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