Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Keeping the Faith

“I don’t like writing, but I like having written.”

I had this quote stuck to my bulletin board for several years. It was scrawled on a yellow Post-It, along with a few other golden nuggets of wisdom chosen to help me through the daily grind. I can’t remember who the quote was attributed to—though I’m thinking George Eliot. A quick Google search has provided no clarity. Everyone and their mother claims they said it first.

It’s ridiculous to say that writers hate writing. We love it—when it’s going well, that is. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of humming along, when the characters come alive and start speaking and acting independent of your conscious thought, when the words seem to be coming from somewhere beyond you. It’s a freaky sensation and often when you try to describe to non-creative people, they think you’re a little fruity.

When it’s not going well, it’s misery. All that liveliness is gone. You feel dry, abandoned. You start to wonder if all the work you’ve managed to produce in your life is a fluke and if you’ll ever be inspired again. Sadly, this is how many writers feel much of the time. It’s not easy conjuring something out of nothing. Sadder still, it’s not something that goes away as you produce a body of work. There will always be a blank page to fill.

What experience does teach you, however, is to have faith. The more I’ve written, the more I’ve come to realize that I will always have fallow periods—and sometimes they can go on for quite a long time—but the desire to write, as well as new writing ideas will always return. In my mind, writers are born, not made, and it is such an integral part of who we are that we can truly never lose it as long as we remain open and trust in ourselves.

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