I will always be writing to myself, to the Bill who has thought, “This sucks. This whole place sucks. Nothing I do works, nothing I say means anything, nothing is happening, and no one cares. This sucks, and I am doomed.” I write to this Bill because he needs writing to. And he is not alone. Humans are prolific and creative when it comes to predicting of their own demise. The world, I have noticed, is always about to end. Sometimes when I write to this Bill, I say, “It’s going to be okay. Listen to me. No, don’t look away – listen to me. I’m okay right now, which means you will be okay. Look ahead to the lights and follow them. Eyes out of the shadows now, they are only obscuring your vision.”
But sometimes I prefer to write into the shadow itself. When I do this I ask gloomy Bill to think not of his current despair, but of one of his many, many other despairs. I take him back to some old moment of doubt and of ruin, and I say to him: Remember. Remember exactly how it felt. Remember exactly how real the pain was, the excruciating story of doom, the instant death of meaningless. Remember all of it in glorious detail. Summon the whole rotten story and retell every rotten moment.
And then ask yourself, How did the story end? Ask yourself why the world is still spinning with you on it. Where is that pain? It was as real as the tree in your yard, wasn’t it? You felt it like a knife. And yet the tree remains, and the pain . . .? It lives only in a story. How real a thing could it have been that it left not a single, fearful mark on the world? Remember now what you once called reality, and remember how in the seeing you watched it vanish within the light of your eyes.
Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.