I feel like the kid who knows the answer and wants to show it off in class.
This is how I feel when I’m writing the good stuff, the real stuff. The “it” is the energy that surges through me when I’m writing the “right” thing.
If there’s one bit of writing wisdom that I would pass along as it has been handed to me in a package of insight, ragged and strong, it would be this:
Write what makes you feel.
Write what makes you feel so joyful that you’re certain words cannot encapsulate it.
Write what makes you so angry that you can taste your fillings because your jaw is tight with rage.
Write what breaks your heart into little shards that prick you even as you write them.
Write what gives you the peace of a summer morning when the gold light lifts the bird song to the open window.
Ignore the wisdom about readers and SEO and guidelines.
Ignore the voices in your own head and on the lips of those around you that say it’s too hard or too scary to write the pain.
Ignore the market and sales and publication expectations.
Because those things may bring you money or sales, maybe, but they will not make you more alive.
And we need you alive and scarred. Jagged, bleeding, dancing.
So write your pet peeves and your quiet pleasures – ads left faded after events have passed and moon of white at a fingernail just growing – these are mine. Write your vast despair – a child lost, hungered bellies, the doubt of enough – and your immense happiness – a mountain range lit by dawn, the look in her eye when she knows she’s beautiful, the opening of a new you never thought you’d have.
As Annie Dillard says, “Give It All, Give It Now.”
Write it alive.
What makes you feel at this exact moment? What if you wrote that down?