A Hand Pointing
In my third and most recent interview with Andre Dubus III, the celebrated novelist and short story writer focused again and again on the importance of the process. As he pointed out, he doesn’t always know how valuable a given story might be, but he’s certain the process of finding that story is valuable. It is a good distinction. Write Within Yourself, a collection of essays culled from this column, exists because the process of finding each essay was ultimately more valuable to me than sharing them. I love to share them, and I am grateful I have a forum, Author magazine, where I can do so. But the process itself remains more valuable, because finding the essays changed not just how I wrote, but how I lived.
Each essay’s message is quite simple: don’t be afraid to write what you love. That’s it. I know it is true that one should never be afraid to write what you love, but, to quote Jennifer Paros, this is an un-provable truth. Like all the truths that have ever helped me, this truth can only be felt, not known. To be in it, is to know it; to be out of it, is to be talking about it while you forget it.
And so to write these little essays I had to return again and again to that place within me where I understood that I should never be afraid to write, say, or do what I love. That I love something is all the proof I need that this thing should be done. Love is a hand pointing, not a place on the map. The more often I returned, at the quiet of my desk, the more I learned how to find my way to this place.
By and by, I could find this place even when I wasn’t writing. I am still more likely to get lost away from my desk than at it, but this is probably why I am a writer. I always find who I am at the end of this road, and I always discover this destination leads everywhere.
Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.