Forgetting How To Swim

I have had a guest staying with me for the holiday, which means that except for one column I managed to squeeze in over the weekend, I have not written in a week. This always stirs a certain amount of insecurity in me. After a few days, I begin to feel as if I have forgotten how to write. After a few days, the man who sits down at his desk every morning and afternoon feels like a friendly stray cat who may or may not return to my door. If I am honest, of course, this forgetting begins as soon as I step away from my desk. As soon as I leave the stream of whatever story I am telling, whether it is this column or the book I am writing, my attention moves from the terrarium of my imagination to the busy and verdant garden of The World. If that story were in fact a stream, already I must turn to the unreliable resource of memory to know the feeling of its current, and no matter how clear or recent that memory, it will always be less tangible than the current of life in which I am at that moment surrounded – the current that is my family and telephone calls and shopping trips.

Such is the ground from which insecurity most easily grows: the belief that you cannot be safe unless you are in two places at once. In this way, writing is an act of trust when you are at the desk and when you are away from the desk. You must trust while you are writing that your imagination will bring you what you need, and you must trust when you are not writing that you still have an imagination.

That I am here writing this column after a week’s hiatus will serve as no proof during my next break. The imagination is immune to proof. In fact, any thought of proof is an interruption to that constant stream. Proof is an empirical understanding of what has happened. The imagination is the source of what has not yet happened, the dinners that have not been cooked, the books that have not been written. All of life’s potential swims within it, and mostly – when I can – so do I.

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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