Every writer seeks his or her authority. It cannot be given to you as an award or a publishing contract is given to you. Your authority arises entirely from your relationship with your work, a relationship that occurs within a region unknown to anyone but you. You are the lone reporter on this battlefield, the only witness to this love affair, the sole survivor from this storm. There is no one to challenge your story, no competing point of view. We have no one to believe but you. Do not ask us for your authority. We don’t possess it. We wouldn’t know what to give you, so we would mostly give you criticism or advice. We mean no harm, but it is uncomfortable to be asked for something you don’t have. It makes us feel inadequate. If pressed, we might describe what we believe our own authority would sound like, which would not sound like yours, and so you would believe you lack authority on everything.
What follows is an unhappy time in your life. You become quarrelsome. You notice how the world is full of lies and half-truths and imitation. You consider making a career out of complaint, assuming the thankless but apparently necessary job of reminding the world of its inadequacy. This brings you some attention but no pleasure. The more you look at it, the worse the world appears. It is a shadow realm, a cheap sound stage in which you have been asked to live a full life.
Sometimes there is no better place from which to find your authority. Once the world of form is stripped of all its meaning and all its power, what is left to you but that which is all meaning but no form? There is the true world in all its fullness, a companion that asks only that you stay long enough to remember its voice when you speak.
Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.