Isn’t it strange that writing can simultaneously feel like the one thing you must do and the one thing you cannot do?
When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man, with a crayon in his mouth. ~ Kurt Vonnegut
Thank you, Mr. Vonnegut, for describing so precisely my writing mentality this week.
Writing is an easy job, in so many ways. I sit in an air-conditioned room, typing on a computer, stopping for tea and cake and dog cuddles whenever I want. Best of all, I can work in my pajamas if the mood strikes. (It always does.)
But, appearances can be deceiving. Writing is hard in it’s own way.
There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. ~ Ernest Hemingway
Right now, I feel like I have galaxies inside of me, dying to get out. Each twinkle of light represents an idea, thought, pattern, character, and plot twist…but I can’t seem to find them. I feel like I’m on their trail, tracking their position, somewhere deep in a forest, but as soon as I get close, trees shift, limbs move, and the shadows change, and all is lost.
Writing is hard work. A clear sentence is no accident. Very few sentences come out right the first time, or even the third time. Remember this in moments of despair. If you find that writing is hard, it’s because it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things that people do. ~ William Zinsser
A few days ago, when I first saw the stunning artwork of Ellie Davies it resonated so powerfully that I sat down and gasped.
Stars + trees.
Anyone who knows me understands this is the combination of two of my most favorite things. Davies combines pictures of lush forests with images from NASA’s Hubble telescope…and the results are nothing short of magic. Her gorgeous collection, ‘Stars’, captures so poignantly my feelings this week, of knowing something special is there, seeing glimpses of lights twinkling in every shadow, but having to struggle and push through challenges, real and imaginary, to get there.
“There is no such thing as good writing, only good rewriting.” ~ Robert Graves
It’s a struggle I think most writers can relate to. Building new worlds, new people, new ideas from scratch, from the raw material within ourselves is rarely an easy task. We all have different strategies to cope with weeks when it seems harder than usual. Mine is perhaps duller than most. I just show up. And then I keep showing up. I do my best to ignore the inner critic, even when the voice is so loud I can barely hear myself think. I keep writing even when the words that come out make me cringe and look away.
Writing. Always writing.
We have to be waiting for the muse. She has to find us working.
Even when it feels impossible.
“Narrative is radical, creating us at the very moment it is being created. We will not blame you if your reach exceeds your grasp; if love so ignites your words they go down in flames and nothing is left but their scald. Or if, with the reticence of a surgeon’s hands, your words suture only the places where blood might flow. We know you can never do it properly — once and for all. Passion is never enough; neither is skill. But try. For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.” ~ Toni Morrison
You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet. ~ Franz Kafka
Please explore more of Ellie Davies’ miraculous work here. I can’t wait till I have some of her work hanging on my walls to always remind me that within the dark forest, magic can be found.