No sooner had I decided on a name for this magazine than I also knew its tag line: You are the author of your own life. The tagline was more of a realization than a decision, and like so many such choices I would gradually come to understand how true it was in the years after its arrival. I can’t remember when my creative attention drifted from where it belonged. Such things happen so gradually, little uncomfortable choice by little uncomfortable choice, convincing myself moment by moment that I am doing the mature thing and that a man needs to survive in the world. By the time I looked up and saw that I was stranded in some desert, I wondered if maybe I hadn’t been kidnapped and dropped there. I wouldn’t have chosen this, after all.
And yet there I was, staring at the pieces of a puzzle that didn’t actually exist. How, I wondered, can I make it so that this book I’m writing will make those letters from agents say “Yes,” instead of “No,” so that I can turn the manuscript into a book that will be on one of those shelves and checks will arrive in that mailbox? All the pieces of this puzzle were outside of me, and if I could only arrange them my life would be whole. But the pieces never fit together. It was as if the pieces would change shape in my hand. It was a nightmare.
Teachers, prophets, parents and friends advice us to “look inside ourselves.” We hear this so often it becomes the easiest advice in the world to ignore. And yet consider my puzzle, whose linchpin piece is a book I must write. Where does that book come from? Is not that book merely a translated projection of what I see inside me? And every other piece of that supposed puzzle responds to that book. Without the book there is nothing, and without me looking inside me, there is no book.
In this way the world of writing and of publishing is merely a reflection of my own thinking, of the direction of my creative attention. As soon as I stopped looking at the pieces they began to fit together on their own. This would seem an act of faith, I suppose, if it were possible to fit those pieces together with my earthly hands, but it is not. Just like the stories I tell, the world I perceive around me becomes exactly as whole as the world I perceive within me.
Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.