Thursday, April 5, 2012

Stories to Tell...

“If you don’t feel that you are possibly on the edge of humiliating yourself, of losing control of the whole thing, then probably what you are doing isn’t very vital. If you don’t feel like you are writing somewhat over your head, why do it? If you don’t have some doubt of your authority to tell this story, then you are not trying to tell enough.”  ~ John Irving

The above quote gave me great reassurance today.  I've been in that incubation phase where I know I want to write - I mean, really write again - but paralyzed with the process of getting started.  When I say "writing again", I mean short stories.  Not blogging about blah-blah or partaking in the great spirit suck that is Facebook.  I mean writing.  Writing with swagger and verve and heart and hunger.  The friction of characters finding their way in a world too wicked and wonderful to contain it all.  Mystery.  Magic.  Loss.  Redemption.  All the elements that make storytelling such a mystical, tantric dance.

What has kept me from such writing is the very thing that keeps all of us from committing to something we secretly feel led to do:  fear.  Fear that I have nothing to say, fear that - should I find I have something to say - no one will care.  Fear that I'll get twenty miles down the road and realize that I've written myself into a corner, and choosing to see that as a dead end rather than a challenge to build more road, to take the off ramp into a game of chance.

We all hunger for someone to give us permission to act on our dreams.  We all crave the reassurance that we're doing good work, that we're on the right path, that we're courageous for standing so close to the flame while whispered guarantees of our safety tickle our ears.

The reason we are drawn to art is the risk involved.  Mind you, there is no net.  It is a tightrope stretched over a yawning chasm, and the fall is spiraling, dizzying, and sometimes fatal.  But the view?  The view is unrivaled.

So, thank you for the reminder, Mr. Irving.  Perhaps it is time to start taking some chances again. To get in over my head.  To risk some humility.

That's where the good stuff resides.

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