A True Tree

I am great believer in effortless writing. Let me be clear, however: I frequently find myself exerting much effort while writing. But this does not change my desire for effortlessness. In fact, the effort I accidentally exert is as meaningful as the effortlessness. My goal when writing is simply to tell the truth as clearly as I am able. It has been my experience that the truth, when I discover it, feels effortless. Finding it, however, often involves effort. It is not so much the search that requires effort, but the exploring of ideas that are not the truth that requires effort. If I am impatient, an idea will come to me, and though I can feel the effort required to apply it to my story, I try to do so anyway, because I want to get on with it already.

Now I am in the business of manufacturing something. Now I am building this idea into my story, and by and by it begins to feel as if I am trying to build a tree from driftwood so that I might be able to describe what a tree looks like. The more I write, the sooner I learn to recognize this effort, and the sooner I am able to put down my tools and continue my search for an actual tree.

Once you find a true tree you know it, because you don’t have to exert any effort to construct it. The truth always exists before you find it, whether you are writing fiction or memoir. This is why writing what is true feels effortless compared to writing what is not. You are only doing half the work.

Or, to be very truthful, you are doing the only work you were ever intended to do.

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