Staying the Course

Today being Sunday has got me in a pensive mood. I think, as writers, we tend to think a lot about method: what is our method, what is the method of writers we admire or want to emulate, and what should our method be in order to be better – better authors, better sellers, better writers, better people.

At the end of the day, though, none of that matters. If the story we have to tell gets told, then we’ve done well. Getting to the page, or to the keyboard, is the important victory. We may cry and gnash our teeth on the way there, but if we get there, then we’ve won.

Writing can be a release from stress and it can be a stressor. It is, always, the truth of itself: it is nothing less than what we see, day in and day out, moment by moment. We may write what we see in literal terms, or we may write what we see on the screen of our minds. If we’re lucky, others will find solace in what stories we tell. But tell them, we must: our job description is “storyteller,” after all.

Someone remarked to me recently that they weren’t certain that all stories deserve to be told. I disagree. I think there is room in the Great Conversation for the inane and the mundane. I think it is true that not all stories deserve an audience, nor should all stories want one. Sometimes the painful truth is that we may, ourselves, believe that our story should have one, but the reality is there isn’t one. Does that mean we shouldn’t write it? That we should muzzle ourselves in favor of the peace of the world? Not bother the silence with our noise?

No. If we have a story, and we each of us do, then we should tell it. We should struggle with the pen or the keyboard and wrestle that minotaur. Worrying about where to send it when we’re done is not the job of the storyteller. That is a job for later, when we put on the hat of author and learn the business of publishing. But many good stories are told, every day, by people to whom publishing is anathema. And many other stories aren’t told that should be, that fester in silence because the writer forgot the one and most important rule:

If you See it, Write it.

Story is God.

2 Replies to “Staying the Course”

  1. I agree with this post so much. I personally get bogged down in the what ifs of the future and end up straggling my efforts at writing by worry about things that don’t matter in the long run.

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