In a recent conversation with a work-friend, talked about the difference between bull-headedness and the commitment to one’s experienced point of view. For a writer, one cannot lay a word to the page without utter commitment. Without that commitment, one waffles, unsure; vacillates over one word or phrase or rhythm and another one. Without that humble “yeah”, a whirlpool lurks just over the horizon. Nothing gets done.
Have been through an extended spate of wha?’s lately. One word, another, all the same: the wonderful clarity that finds the right idea and express the first time is missing. One is not propelled into the idea by the from-the-inside-out certainty of the character’s place in his/her own world. Every phrase is a “maybe, maybe not.”
In cases such as these, the writer falls back on devotion. If the passage does not come together today, there is always tomorrow. Spend time, chip away at the edges of the challenge and, eventually, something will come clear. On some nights, the path is merely surrender: Give up tonight altogether, hope for better tomorrow.
The right choices are breathtaking. They are the smiling sated-ness of an encounter with a wonderful lover. They are the satisfaction that the mathematician feels at the conclusion of a provable equation. They are the open chakras, the meal for the mind, the purr of the cat, the grace of a friend.
The unmade choice is like being tone deaf. Not hearing the sounds in one’s own head—not hearing anything at all—is like being shut away from one’s own thoughts, closed off in another room to which one has no access. Not hearing the inner voice is the loneliest place in the writer’s experience. If one won’t talk to one’s self, who else is there?
A product of being tired, certainly. The fear of finishing a work that one loves, probably. The cost of Commerce and days at the job. Or, perhaps, too many back-to-back days at the page. Writers’ brains are wells that can indeed be tapped dry. And watching the inspiration trickle back a drop at a time is barely and rarely enough.
In the distance, I hear music.