Write the story you really believe in. I really mean really believe in. Not the one you think you should write, or the one you think you would like to write, or the one someone told you would be good to write, or the one that’s currently trending the market. Or any other variable of the above.
Write the story you really, truly, cross your heart and hope to die, believe in. The one you’ve been waiting to read your whole life. The one you would have loved to read at the reader age for which it’s written, and that you’d love to read now.
It may take a bit of searching; don’t despair. If you start with something and then discover down the road it’s not the story you really believe in, don’t despair. If you find your heart breaking, don’t despair. If you feel blocked, don’t despair. Finding the story you are meant to write can take awhile. It can feel like trying to chisel through rock solid ice. Don’t despair. We’ve convinced ourselves it’s not right to trust in what we truly believe. But if you can find a way to do just that–listen only to that small still voice inside that whispers nothing but inspiration from your imagination and let go of the rest–you will find, in quite a miraculous way, you are no longer a prisoner of perfection syndrome; and self-doubt is nothing more than a cloud passing over the face of a wide open sky.
Risk is absolutely important in becoming a master. In fact, in acquiring any skills at all. Because you have to leave the rules behind and stop doing what one generally does…doing the standard things. You have to push out into your own experience of the world. You have to do something that the rules don’t tell you to do so that you can start to learn to get tuned into the particular features of the situation. – Being in the World (documentary)
Jane Spigarelli, my beautiful friend who passed away last September, was always trying to teach me the importance of having a Plan B. The idea of a Plan B never crossed my mother’s mind, or if it did, she never taught me to have one. So, until I met Jane, the idea of a Plan B never occurred to me. But once, during her illness, Jane asked me to post this song on a blog which kept us informed of her treatments and remissions and meetings with remarkable people. Strangely, I had planned to post it to her on the exact day she requested it. I know. It’s not even a bad example of a Plan B…what can I say?
27 April 2013. Someone told me privately they didn’t understand why I wrote this post. In part, it was because I love this song and loved that my friend Jane requested it the day I had planned to post it to her. And, in part, because creativity (being diametrically opposed to cancer…though cancer can be perversely creative) has a singular direction which is relentless in its pursuit of fulfillment. This second part is how I always thought of and saw my parents. They never stopped following the direction of their inspiration until it was realized. No Plan B for them. Ever. And for my friend, Jane, in the end, there was no Plan B for her, either.
Yesterday, as I was working on my current project, I realized how much this story is chomping at the bit to get onto the page. I felt almost stressed that I don’t know enough at this point, in order to write it. For the first time in my life, I am aware of the impatience of the creative impulse; that being mortal, and in need of dinner breaks and sleep, I am a slow learner!
Why does a writer write? Because a writer has a talent for it. Or, if not a natural talent, a passion to cultivate one. I often think of Van Gogh, whose work I have grown to love as I get older. I was never keen on it when I was young. A few years ago, there was an exhibition of his drawings (and a handful of his final paintings) at the Met. I realized he had given everything of himself to transform what was little more than a mediocre talent into a new narrative of line and colour. He sold only one painting during his life. Today, he is called the father of modern art. That stays with me, when the going gets tough.