I have found that when I am writing if I am only thinking about the story I am trying to tell and not about whether my agent will like it, or editors will like it, or my mother will like it, or boys between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one will like it, or whether it is too sophisticated for the market, or not sophisticated enough for the market—if all I am actually thinking about is the story I am trying to tell, then the writing, as we say, goes well. And by well I don’t mean I write many, many words, necessarily, but I enjoy experience. It may go slowly or it may go quickly, either way, my whole attention is on the story and the story only, which is pleasant the way having a long and uninterrupted conversation with a new friend is pleasant. Sometimes, of course, I do think about these other things that have nothing to do with the story while I am trying to tell the story. And because these thoughts are not the story, I cannot see, hear, taste, think, ors feel the story and the writing, as we say, goes poorly. And by poorly I mean I leave the desk wondering if I had ever enjoyed writing. There is nothing enjoyable about trying to do one thing while you think about another thing, particularly when what you are thinking is an unanswerable question about the worthiness of the thing you are supposed to be doing.

But when I leave the desk after the writing has gone well, it is tempting to want to take credit for what has just occurred. After all, I was the only one there. Except what I did I really do? When the writing goes well, it is as if I have simply opened a spigot and allowed the water to flow. No, I must leave the writing itself alone. However, I did do something. I did focus my attention on the work and the work only, and I did this by choosing not to be afraid.

That is my only power, to choose fear or that which I love. Fear may come disguised as practicality, it may come cloaked as something to keep me safe from shame, but it is the vampire knocking on my door and nothing else. If I let him in, he will in fact drain my life for a time, sucking my attention from where it ought to be. What happens when I choose love is beyond my power to know, but I already know what will happen when I choose fear.


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