The Villain Speaks

During my conversation with Jennie Shortridge about my essay collection Write Within Yourself, Jennie observed that I wrote as freely about the experience of being lost as I did being found, so to speak. In other words, if the point of the book is to remind the reader what it feels like to be at home within yourself where all the writing occurs, I did so in part by reminding the reader what it feels like to be far away from home. It hadn’t occurred to me until she made this point how right she was. I always want to take the reader and myself as deeply into the feeling of returning home as I possibly can. Sometimes, as I am making my case for the primacy of staying home, I find that I remain strangely on the surface of whatever I am writing about.

This is when I have learned to turn to my own lost-ness. When in doubt, I empty the cupboards of all my sins. This is not hard to do. I have committed every sin a writer can commit. I doubt there is a single wretched thought I have not believed true at some point in my writing journey. I have felt all levels of envy, greed, self-loathing, and hubris. And so I write as Evil Bill. And Lo! I am like an actor delighting in his role as villain. How delicious to give him voice, to let him rage and roar and die.

It is sacrificial to be sure. How the ego craves the spotlight, and yet how quickly he burns in the sun. In this way, I lure him to his death over and over, letting him speak his fearful truth. It is not mine, but I have known it as such, have called it the pill of reality I must swallow. You cannot taste the poison when you are convinced it is medicine, but taste it you will by and by. And so you write to remind yourself and your reader of what you have forgotten, remind you and your readers that the truth needn’t be swallowed since it already lives within you.

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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