Fear. Fear is the constant presence that has turned my cowardliness into masochism. Sometimes I think I know everything, and then I am crippled with my own naivety. How can I write when my pen touches the paper and mirrors my own inexperience? I stare at one line, and then the next, and soon I find myself in the shower crying to the lyrics of some long-forgotten-early-teen ballad enabling my unreasonable breakdown – my dramatics are not lost on me.
Soon after, the cycle starts again and the questions: why should I write, what makes you so special, decide to jerk me around again.
Ah, the pain, I like that.
“Write what you know” is a quote that haunts writers like a white whale and is misleading in the fact that it is never wholly finished. As I was trying to hunt down the origins of this quote, to give it my own piece of mind, I discovered this:
“A lot of folks attribute it to Hemingway, but what I find is his having said this: ‘From all things that you know and all those you cannot know, you make something through your invention that is not a representation but a whole new thing truer than anything true and alive.'”
This is what I was looking for, my battle finally won.
My need for authenticity fed the monster (who needs no reservations to appease his palate) with my own words to distort their true meaning; leaving nothing more than a shell of disappointment – promptly on display in my trash.
My writer’s paradox left me waving a white flag and consuming a little, okay maybe a lot, of comfort food (& maybe some whiskey involved).
Now, I know better. My arsenal is filled with the wisdom only age and disappointment can give.
We go to school to learn, but we write to discover. Authenticity is not a clear-cut answer but an ongoing process to find out what you believe, what you know, and what you are unsure of. We need those who experience reality from outside of our own conscious to slap us down but what a writer really needs is curiosity. How fun it must be to write when you are discovering the answer for yourself; not through scholarly articles, but within your own Socratic method.
I’m going to get things wrong and people are going to correct me. My own voice will evade me and reshape itself into a parasitic dream but the very fact that I (and many of you out there) fight for authenticity means I am not in bad company.