Still sifting through all the mighty goodness that was Viable Paradise, still lifting out pieces and either enjoying them anew or finding how they click into my life in interesting ways.
Most heavily on my mind lately is the Steven Brust lecture. It was about finding your lie as a writer, the thing that will let you keep writing. Boy, howdy, did I need that lecture. I needed it ten years ago, but I will take it now. Take it and live it.
When I got home from Viable Paradise, lying in bed unable to sleep, I kept trying on different lies. Some of the ones he offered up was one writer who defiantly said, “I’m just writing stories. It’s not deep, it doesn’t matter.” When it does. But thinking that it mattered froze him. Hence the lie. Brust said that his lie was that he had to believe that writing was entirely learned. (And oh my god, if I could have run up and given the man a hug I would have, for all his lie implies. Virtual hugs, anyways.)
So what was my lie? That took some doing. Nothing seemed to fit.
Then it hit me. I spend so much time worrying about the words I haven’t yet written. I put off writing, afraid of writing, afraid of failing.
But a farmer. What does a farmer do? Does he spend all his time thinking about the fruit he might one day harvest? Or does he put a seed in the ground, whenever he has the chance? Don’t think about the fruit, plant the seed. Every day I plant a seed, I will have something to harvest later. But right now, it’s all about the seeds.
What’s a seed? Writing new words, editing words, sending out stories, doing critiques, in that order, every day. Don’t focus on the end product, on what might be. So long as I keep planting seeds, eventually I will have something I can take pride in.
This is my lie. It’s a productive lie and it focuses my efforts. The lie might change as the years move on, but since putting it on I’ve felt more at ease about writing than I have for a very long time.