In my conversation with Benjamin Percy on Tuesday’s Author2Author, we found ourselves talking about the distasteful inevitability of ongoing rejection in a writer’s life. Sometimes that rejection takes the form of letters from agents or editors, and sometimes that rejection takes the form reviews on Amazon or newspapers. Percy described needing to develop “a skin as thick as a catcher’s mitt” around your heart. Which reminded me of something I heard the comedian Craig Ferguson say in a documentary about hecklers. “Do what you love,” he said, “and you’re bulletproof.” Perhaps this is the true source of the thick skin Percy advised writers grow. What could possibly pierce love? Love offers no resistance for there is nothing for it to resist. There is only love within the house of love, and you are bulletproof because the bullets do not exist.
You know this as you know yourself. You know there is no greater certainty than love. What can you say you have ever known with greater depth than what you love? And when have you felt more surefooted in your days than when you felt love passing through you for no reason at all, without a song in your ear or friend at your side, just love by itself, within you simply because that is where it has always dwelt?
Your only task is to remember where you live. If you write toward what you love you cannot be harmed unless you question what you love. You might as well look in the mirror and question your own existence, but we do this anyway because we cannot look in the mirror and see love the way we see ourselves. But if we could see it, then it would be outside of us, fruit we would wait to harvest, rather than the stream of life that brings the fruit to ripeness.
Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.