It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around. – Stephen King
Life, the grand poohbah on high, offers us the guts of humanity to examine and explore every day. It is also a communal ride regardless of how singular we may think it to be. No man is ever an island or how else would we get our morning coffee? We bounce off each other forming thoughts and ideas every second, all across the globe, affecting our world simply by being our unique and individual selves. Life is the greatest art we all create and share.
Which brings me to prickled underbellies. Writing shares the same process as life. Each word bounces against the other with the potential to turn the writer inside out. Good writers expose their guts and the prickly underbelly no one gets to touch. They understand Life is the teacher and trust the art of creation. They write with heart and write what they know.
Yes, you have to be authentic to real world application in writing your story and know your shit. Anyone can fact check these days with a simple query to Google. (As a reader a single misplaced or wrong word can be all it takes to burst my I-am-right-there-on-the-page bubble. This is why I love fantasy so much. My rules, my way, baby.) Yet this is not the know I am speaking about. Yes great writers employ it, but they also dig deep, all the way down to their soul, and write from Knowing.
This is sacred space – The Knowing – the place of intuition and this just feels right. It is from this place joy is found, the heart sings, hours whiz by like seconds and worry does not exist. This is the zone.
In this place I trust in the message coming through my words and am willing, if not to share my art with the world, at least am on fire to put it to the page. Yet it is in this zone where I find writing is its most intimate and unnerving. For in the light of day those words glare with strange hieroglyphics that my brain cannot make sense of but my heart has a vague remembrance of uttering. In this next day head space, the brain and heart must meet. Kill your darlings, darling, but know what ones are to be saved.
And there is the crux. More often than not, I fail to trust my heart and shush my brain. I get caught up in the mechanics of craft, insecurity – will anyone like the story or will I be written off as the batshit crazy, babbling nonwritery writer in the room – not to mention how to fix that plot hole the size of Kansas. What flow? What fun? Writing is hell.
Aside from this I worry my prickly underbelly will show through the fake fur and pillowed padding of the story and be seen. Everything crunches to a halt. I am stuck mid-process basing all validation on word count. This is my prickly underbelly’s weakest spot.
Books are amazing creatures, some sing, some dance that magical two steps, others sink to the darkest depths of shitville never to amount to anything other than weighting a door. You never know which type you have. The Knowing comes with no guarantees. It asks you to trust the process, let all thoughts, doubts, and fears go. It asks you to trust your self and trust in the something greater that writing taps into.
Like a waking meditation with color and images, writing comes from some conscious/unconscious state forming itself as it goes – word by sometimes slow agonizing word. That is the thing about writing. If you step aside, check your person and ego at the door, all that remains is the story – the all that just won’t leave that demands to be used on a page. It defies word count, endless drafts, editors, beta readers and the stall in its persistence to be birthed. If you are lucky those used up pages will touch the world. At the very least, they should touch your own soul. If they have, dear writer, you have done your job and done it well.