Week 27: A Few Forces Below

I’ve worked hard at my novel and my progress is ridiculously slower than what I hoped it would be. I must admit, I thought once I set aside time to write, the sessions would act like the priming of a pump and the words would just … flow. I actually had grand delusions of writing a book in a few weeks like Jack Kerouac.

Jack taped hundreds of feet of paper together so he wouldn’t have to stop typing.

For me, not so. Sometimes the words flow. Sometimes there is only a trickle and at the end of a writing session I have little to show for the time spent staring at the screen. Still, I show up. I sit down. I write. These simple actions have profoundly changed me. Success matters less. Assigning meaning or value to what I do matters more.

The act of creation is one of the most difficult processes I’ve experienced — akin to giving birth. I don’t even know why I am trying to do it. There is no guarantee of a return. It may invite criticism and controversy … which would be a step up from invisibility. It may show a weak and ignoble character or incompetence and a small mind. Still, I keep scratching at it to see. I must see what’s inside.

This is the quote I’ve said to myself lately. I love the triumphant nature of the speaker, whose work is seriously criticized, but who had enough courage to say something. I often reach out at nights, asking God to take part in preparing the material, giving the “forces below” notice I will be there to write.

Over the years, I found one rule. It is the only one I give on those occasions when I talk about writing. A simple rule. If you tell yourself you are going to be at your desk tomorrow, you are by that declaration asking your unconscious to prepare the material. You are, in effect, contracting to pick up such valuables at a given time. Count on me, you are saying to a few forces below: I will be there to write. Norman Mailer.





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