I enjoy teaching writing, and while I do teach showing and not telling, and story structure, and contrast, often I wind up talking about trust. All this craft is useless without trust. Without trust, the whole writing operation collapses like a house of matchsticks because all writing is based on the idea that something only you can see and know would be interesting to someone else if translated accurately. Yet only experience itself can teach us to trust. Fortunately, experience is a brilliant teacher. Experience gives perfectly consistent feedback, it never judges, and never grows tired of teaching. Experience turns words and ideas into reality, turns a concept into something you can live by. You can question an idea, but if you question your own experience, what is there left for you to believe in but someone else’s experiences?

As a mere human teacher, you quickly run up against your limits when trying to teach trust. It is as if there is a coin, and one side of the coin is everything we can all see. It is easy to talk about this side of the coin. But there is another side to this coin called reality, and if you turn the coin over you will see it. Sometimes, the rational mind feels that to turn the coin over is like being asked to believe in Santa Claus again. The rational mind wants proof that this other side of the coin exists before turning reality upside down.

The rational mind will therefore ask someone else to turn the coin over first. The rational mind debates law, history, physics. In such debates only what can be shown is valid. But no one can turn this coin over for you. It is yours to turn or not. This feels like hokum to the rational mind, but there it is all the same. Hokum is magic, after all, and what is asking to be trusted looks a bit like magic. In that moment of trust you find the only ground upon which you were meant to stand, and reality becomes something into which what you trusted may appear.


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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