"Filled with restlessness and longing, he began to read." The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (page 74).
We've all heard it before: write the book you want to read. We give mental assent to this phrase: Yes, yes. What I want to read. Only that.
We sit down to write and the screaming memes drown out the book we mean to write. The voices of people who would judge the work before it sees light of day (we ascribe this, usually without knowing if it is true or not). The voice of mom, or our Sunday School teacher, or whoever. If only we could be left alone with our thoughts.
Dig around for some cup of courage that allows us to write through the din of voices. We tell ourselves no one will read the darn thing anyway, save some glassy-eyed agent's assistant. Who will know if we pour our misunderstandings onto the page?
Banish the memes and what is left? The basket is lighter. Honest prose. True story.
There is the doubt that we are not up to the task. A story grand as one we want to read certainly requires a steady hand. And look. Our hands tremor. Our word reach is puny. We must look up the word rigour in the dictionary because we most certainly are using it incorrectly.
Sign up for NaNoWriMo and learn to let the words fly, land where they may. We sprout wings and realize trusting ourselves isn't the point. That writers are, primarily, untrustworthy folk. There's joy in that.
Memes exiled, the issue of self trust resolved, we solider on with the scraps of truth left to us. The basket is nearly empty. True story.
There is the story. The tapestry in our minds has turned to a single clanging gong on the page. Stiff, shrill, obvious. We have misplaced our campfire enthusiasm, shelved our wide-eyed curiosity in favour of experience. By accident we bought into the social media gimmick that word count and to-do lists, and deadlines mean we have arrived (where, exactly?).
It turns out we must rid ourselves of ourselves. Dissolve ego in the acid of honest prose, good story. The basket is empty.
We are left with exactly all we had in the beginning. Nothing more than our restlessness and longing.