After a little bit of digging, I managed to find a short piece I wrote a few years back about what writing was like for me when I was first starting out (I don’t know why I thought I was qualified to offer any insights into writing, nor do I know why I felt anyone cared, but I did it, so that’s what happened). And I think it’s safe to say that while my writing has improved over the years, my thoughts on the subject have not changed a great deal: I am still full of the insecure fears that plagued me when I first started. The only real difference is that now, armed with a couple of tricks and the self-reassurance that first drafts usually are garbage, I find myself a tad more equipped to handle myself against the blank white page. Take a look below but be gentle—you’re in my head, after all. At the very least, wipe your damn feet.
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The divine flash never comes—it never has and never will. If I’ve learned anything since I began writing, it is this: Writers are not mediums. They do not channel inspiration; they find it and excavate it. They are creators and determined hard workers. The successful ones are willing to show up every day and put in the hours. That’s it. So I will start, as I always do, the only way I know how: one key at a time, which turns into one word, which becomes a sentence. A few of those and we’re in business. Hey, this ain’t so bad, after all. But I forget we’re just getting started.
I'm in a room now, an impossibly dark and deep room. This place is my writing space, and the time away from it has been like staring into the sun for days: It’s dulled my vision, made me blind, and made this dim space I've spent so much time in appear darker and more foreign than it truly is. But there is a feeling, a knowing that this space has light—or at least the promise of it. So I do the only thing I can: I start moving around the room, clumsy and slow at first. We must crawl before we can walk, I tell myself. So I crawl, desperately but steadily. Finally, after banging my shin on a few things, stubbing a toe or two, the risk pays off, and I find a wall—something familiar to lean on. It isn't much, but it's enough to give me hope. It's a feeling I've felt before and grown to love. I continue to fumble in the darkness, looking for a light switch on the wall, a doorknob, a hinge, more familiarity. And right when I think it will never come, it does. I find a corner, and it's comforting. I stand in it for a moment and get my bearings, allow the small victory to soothe my worry. I'm beginning to map the area in my mind now, learning where to go and, more importantly, where not to go. My vision is slowly coming back, and the darkness fades to light with every strike of the keys. I'm not actually moving about the room anymore. In fact I never was. I'm moving about the page, always have been. I’m trying to feel my way around it, trying to find something I can anchor to, something to make the task which lies ahead of me seem a little less intimidating. From time to time, the fear that this will never happen is overwhelming, but I push past it. I have to. If I can't, I might as well chop off my fingers and douse my keyboard in kerosene. Let it burn.
After some time, I find what I'm looking for, and it is the best kind of discovery: the door on the page. The door to the story. I don't know where it will lead, but I know it will lead somewhere—it always does. Even when it seems like it won't, by God it does. I walk through it, and I'm no longer sitting at the keys; I'm in the story and letting it show me what it is. My only job now is to be there as it happens, so I can record it as accurately as it deserves. I am merely a witness. This is the place I want to be. I love it here. I can only hope that when I leave again—even if it's only for the briefest of moments—I can remember how to get back.