For Story's Sake
I've been feeling a growing jealousy toward a local writer who's had a lot of success during her short career. She's prolific, widely read, beautiful. Rather than push the jealousy away, I want to take it by the hand and invite it in. It has much to teach me, if only I can avoid the jagged edges of its exterior.
She writes these pep talks, in the voice of one friend to another. They're plainspoken, free of cheap motivation or rah-rah enthusiasm, and that makes them feel refreshing in a climate where when everyone is screaming louder and louder to be heard. I admire and envy her for that -- for tapping into something that's real but also culturally relevant.
I can write real. I can write openly and honestly. I've honed that muscle. But the cultural relevance is harder to come by.
Interestingly, at some point during this fallow period, building a platform has become more important to me than writing this book. In years prior, the platform was a means to an end. A tool for helping me bring the book into the world. And perhaps because of that, it felt like a chore. But that's shifted. The platform has become the point. In building a platform, I can not only bring my book into public view. I can also, hopefully, build an audience hungry for my words, which in turn would bring greater influence, greater ability to have an impact on the world.
I don't know what that means for my writing in the future. I don't know whether I'll abandon the book project entirely and focus on essays or whether I'll tap into a vein of enthusiasm and throw myself headlong into both pursuits. But I feel the winds shift. A change in the air.
"Tell the story for story's sake," writes Richard Wagamese in Embers: One Ojibway's Meditations. "Leave your expectations, ego and doubt at the door and use the story's energy to do your work. If your worries matter that much, you can pick them back up when you're finished for the day."