Useful Forgetting

I received a Google alert recently that someone had written a blog about my book Write Within Yourself. Curious, I loaded the page into my browser, but decided to put off reading it until I’d finished my work. Though it looked like a positive review, one can never be sure, and I didn’t want that day’s writing infected. There is nothing worse when asking, “What do I most want to say?” than remembering that there will always be someone somewhere who doesn’t like the answer. So I dove down the well of the story I was telling, and I forgot about blogs, and about readers, and about the books I’d written, and the books I’d read, and the arguments I’d had, and the games I’d lost and won, and the news, and unfinished chores, and taxes, and even my family and friends. I forgot about all of that because it wasn’t in the room with me that morning nor in the story I was following. This was the best forgetting possible, a forgetting that was really remembering, and when I finished I remained suspended for a moment in the awareness that there was no reason to hurry and nothing to regret.

Then I remembered the blog. Again, it looked positive, but I approached it warily all the same, not wanting to spoil where writing had left me. The blog’s author had indeed enjoyed the book, and recognizing this I began to read it with a kind of growing hunger, feeding something I felt storytelling alone could not. The more I read, the hungrier I felt, until I’d reached the end of the blog starving for more.

It wasn’t until I closed the browser that I realized that reading a good review was not significantly different than reading a bad review. Though good and bad reviews took me in opposite directions, they both led me away from myself. Travel far enough in either direction, and I will be led to the same place – a land where all that matters is other people’s opinions.


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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