It happens every time I sit down to write. Indeed, every time I think about writing, There’s a trembling deep inside my belly. There’s a jangle of worries in my mind. What if it doesn’t work this time? What if the magic is not there? What if it never comes back? What if I am struck dumb?
I am sometimes struck dumb, but I always know it’s only temporary, only until I put my fingers back on the keyboard. You see, the “magic” is not magic at all. Not entirely, anyway.
I often get caught up in the words we use to talk about the creative process, words like Muse and magic that tend to distance me from the real source of my creativity. I forget that the “magic” is a combination of reading, imagination and practice. I forget that it’s the years of practice, the years of reading, the years of dreaming that gel into that not-so-mysterious blend that we call magic. Making magic takes work. Making magic takes resolve. Most of all, making magic takes courage.
Does realizing all this make the fear any less? Make it go away? Hardly. I have put in the work, and continue to. I have the resolve. What I lack, and always will, is confidence. I fear dipping into that magic bowl and coming up empty, even though I know that it is an ever-renewing resource. I fear pulling out things that scare the Hell out of me–which often happens. I fear the deep feelings that live there, feelings I have struggled for so long to imprison. There are monsters in there, monsters with teeth like steel and claws like knives.
I fear. It’s that simple and that complex. I fear. No talismans exist to take that fear away. No spells, no mantras to whisk my fears away on the cold wind of reason. I am alone with my fear, and my tears give no relief. I fear the page; I fear the emptiness of it, the responsibility that lies on me to fill it. I fear empty words and false emotions. I fear predictable plots and paper characters. I fear.
I often also forget that my fear is also a magic wand. That depth of feeling is a doorway into a dimension of story that many dare not open. Sometimes I find the courage to look through that door. Sometimes I find the courage to step through. Courage is knowing what is behind that door and opening it anyway. Courage is looking deep and feeling deep even though the monsters roar and clash. Courage is taking one more step, drawing one more breath. Courage is writing one word, one sentence.
Just living takes a lot of courage. A lot. More than most people allow themselves to realize. Existence is easy; living is hard. Writing takes no more courage than just living, in the end. All it takes is two sentences. Two sentences to pry open the door; two sentences to dip into the cauldron; two sentences to open the artery and let the blood flow. If I can just write two sentences, I can make my daily words, and the words will be golden. It’s those first two sentences that hold all the dread, all the fear, all the courage.
I fear. And I write. I feed my magic. And I write. I live. And I write. And I write.