The Forgotten World

What it takes to write the book you most want to write is also what it takes to lead the life you most want to lead. Perhaps you’ve heard me mention this before. It’s true, you know. If you know how to write a book, you know how to market a book, or start a business, or find a lover, or buy house. If you know how to write a book, you already know how to do everything, and if you know how to do anything, you already know how to write a book. That is because the process of creation, from books to businesses to marriages is always precisely the same. The mechanics vary from task to task, but the mechanics are of little consequence. Mechanics can be learned the same as multiplication tables can be learned, and once learned, the mechanics are rarely forgotten. But the actual physics of creation can be forgotten. In fact, humans forget it constantly, ceaselessly, and within that forgetting dwells all of our pain.

I frequently forget. When I write, I enter the terrarium of my desk, ask myself what looks interesting that day, quiet my busy, furtive, worried mind, receive something to write about, and then awaken my busy mind in which the mechanics of language are stored and translate what I have been given. That is creation, the entirety of it. Then I get up from my desk, and ask, “How do I create the rest of this life?”

As if the imagination that offered me my ideas to write was not present away from the desk. As if my busy mind is somehow the source of all my creative answers everywhere but at the desk. As if the only ideas I have ever received were those to write. What an unfriendly world that would be. When I remember the truth of it, I remember to write not just my stories but my day, and quiet my mind the same as I would at my desk to receive a plan for marketing a book, or teaching my son, or cooking dinner.

There is no difference from one creation to the next. Our job remains forever the same, regardless of the task before us. Forgetting, meanwhile, is only painful when we call our amnesia the truth, when instead of finding our way back to what we have always known, we mourn the impossibility of creating anything meaningful within a tiny world we invented in haste to replace the one we love.

9781935961994-Perfect_CS.inddWrite Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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