On The Road

The books we write are like one, or two, or three-year marriages. First, you must love the story you are going to tell. It’s not enough that the story is sexy or interesting. There are a lot of sexy, interesting story ideas out there, but that does not mean you will love them all. If you don’t love a story, you’ll reach the middle and you won’t know where it’s going, and it won’t feel sexy or interesting anymore. But if you love that story, you will be willing to find your way through these valleys, not merely to get to the other side, but because the love you feel for the story has not left, it has just required something different of you to see and feel it. Which is the other way stories are like marriages – both ask us to change. This is never why we start. We begin because love stimulates our strongest curiosity, our sharpest interest. This relationship, this story, is not a place on the map, it is a road, and you want to know where it’s going for reasons you cannot understand, the same as you cannot see where the road is ultimately headed.

Soon enough, however, you find out. You came to this road ill-equipped for the entire journey. Usually, you are carrying too much. You will never go as far as you want lugging all that you have called precious. You must decide which is more important – the journey or what you are carrying. Or perhaps parts of you are not as strong as you had thought. It wasn’t until you reached the river you had to swim that you understood how weak you had let your arms become. Now you must find the humility to pay attention to what you had called unimportant.

Oh, the agony of change. Always there is that moment when you have marched yourself right up against it and you know you can go no further as you are. For that moment, you hate everything. You hate yourself for needing to change, and the road for requiring you to change. Worse, you cannot go back; that way is now an illusion you can no longer believe. There is only forward, one step toward what you actually are.


Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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