I deal with my stories the way I deal with my life. There’s this overarching philosophy. I don’t know where I learned it. (It’s not a very good one.) I think, “I’ll get all these pesky, less important projects out of the way before I dedicate my time and attention to the things I really care about.”
You see why this is stupid, right? Because you get a lot of things done, but a lot of mediocre things. And the truest tales, the ones that tug at your insides and echo the most vibrant bits of your dreams in waking, those are the ones that remain unspun, unfinished, only partway done, half-notions left to molder while you birth “realistic” compromises, those dimmed visions more easily sculpted from inkling to full fruition because they aren’t difficult enough to warrant much in the way of effort or discipline.
“I’ll write these short stories before I bother getting into Doors.”
“I’ll write Doors before I tackle Wishbook.”
(Because Doors is special, but Wishbook is probably the only story I’ve ever truly cared about. I care about it so much that I don’t want anyone else to have it, because they might harm it. But I want more than anything for it to be told, and told well.)
And the thing is, I’m going to die someday, maybe 40 years from now, maybe 4 days from now, and I have no way of knowing if I’ll get them all down.
It’s funny. I should be afraid of dying without ever having fallen in love, or dying without ever having experienced the world, but my main fear is dying with all these untold stories rattling around inside. Because if I die, then they die with me.
This is morbid. But Orlando has everybody thinking about life and death these days, so can you blame me?
The thing a writer has to realize is, No one will ever know these stories if I don’t tell them.
And either that’s enough of an impetus for you to sit your butt down and get to work, or it isn’t. But if you’re going to do it—put the work in, really try—then you have to cut through the bullshit excuses and choose to be raw and real. Don’t take the easy path, don’t tackle the less vital project because it lets you delay what’s really important to you.
These things inside you that want out—they’re scary, beautiful, enormous, treacherous, and ultimately so worthwhile—
Don’t wait. Won’t wait. Why wait? It’s a lot of work, sure, but you’re up to the challenge. Maybe I am too.
Words on a page, friend. That’s all it is. Words on a page.