To The River

Here’s a little experiment. Forget for the moment about your career, about your readership, about finding an agent, about ebooks and the ever-changing publishing world. Forget about all of that and ask yourself this: If I only had the time to write one more book, what would that book be? But wait—before you answer it, let’s acknowledge why that question is a little odious. Life leading up to and during the writing of a magnum opus can be sweet, but a little anti-climactic afterward. Hemingway wrote The Old Man and the Sea, won the Nobel Prize, and then blew his brains out a few years later. So there is that.

I will come to that in a moment. In the meantime, ask yourself, “What is the book I would write if I had only one more book to write?” If you have an answer, you probably feel not only the story within you, but the need in the world outside of you for this story. Like a child who has, with fresh eyes, observed a gap in his parents’ accumulated perception, you sense an unexpressed desire that is greater than your mere wish to tell a cool story, just as the child, in what is called rebellion, is helping to answer a question his parents didn’t realize they were asking.

In this way, in telling the stories you absolutely must tell, you are finding your place in the world, a place that you somehow created even as it was waiting for you. There is no better place to be. Most remarkably, what can, in all its urgency, feel like the last story you will ever need to tell, what can feel like a salmon’s journey to spawn and die, is actually the first pearl on a very long strand. Unlike that salmon, once you find your river’s source you do not need to drop your eggs and perish, because yours was a journey to your beginning. All that will end is an old story that kept you swimming in a circle.

Remember to catch Bill every Tuesday at 2:00 PM PST/5:00 EST on his live Blogtalk Radio program Author2Author!

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