Believing in the Current

I often tell my students that stories only make sense when you’re telling them, in the same way a conversation only makes sense when you’re having one. I often tell my students this so that I’ll remember it. Entering into a story is like entering into a current of creativity; it has its own direction and speed and destination. When I’m in it, I understand it, by which I mean I enjoy it and want to keep following it. When I’m in it, nothing else is important, including where that current is heading. The current isn’t limited to storytelling, of course. It’s always flowing whether I’m writing or running or even sleeping. It just keeps flowing and flowing. It cannot be turned off. I, meanwhile, must choose to enter it. If I do, that current does most of the creative work. It brings me the ideas and points me in the best direction. But it will not, it cannot, make me enter it. I must choose to do so.

It is a choice I must sometimes make in the face of overwhelming evidence that the current is a fairy tale dreamed in the hallucinatory reverie of creative good fortune. When I’ve dropped out of the current, when I’ve looked about at my life to see how I’m doing, to keep score, when I get my final tally and see all that is lacking, the current seems to have betrayed me. Why did I follow it, if I could wind up here? I don’t like it here. There is nothing here.

This is always the moment of choice. How right I am: there is nothing outside of that current. Not one single idea worth following. But happiness makes no sense when you’re unhappy. And so I must choose, not what makes sense, but only what feels better. I must choose to believe, not in what I see, but in what I want; not in what I have, but in what I would like to create. I must choose to believe in choice itself, that well-being is not the fortunate consequence of circumstances beyond my control, but the only conclusion to a choice I can make any time.


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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