I have noticed a set of rules, seemingly sub-consciously, beginning to calcify, about the writing. I discover them as I bounce against the docks, trying to moor this small boat each day onto something fixed.
A. No writing about writing, especially when it gets hard. I think I hate that kind of writing.
But I’ve broken that rule in probably at least a dozen posts, if not more, whether directly or indirectly. It’s as if I was trying to hide the fact that I’m writing, like a magician, and whatever emotions and revelations and insights have become challenging about it, to fend off the embarrassment about what isn’t happening.
B. Don’t complain about difficulties.
But difficulty is a solid foundation from which to begin. In fact, the difficulty itself might be an advantage, an opportunity to be as truthful as possible.
C. Don’t be explicit and direct. Be suggestive with what sounds good.
This is a dumb rule. If something is hard, explain why it is hard, show how it is hard, be hard alongside the thing, rather than against it.
D. No therapy.
I’ve been writing here now every day for almost five months. The first month was exciting, fresh, invigoratingly honest. The second month was surprising. The third month was strange. The fourth month was difficult, full of ruts. The fifth month was even more difficult.
That sounds like therapy.
I do have one good rule for therapy, that I might be well served to employ here. “Whatever you don’t want to talk about in therapy, talk about that first, immediately.”
When I sit down to write, and most recently, after an hour, I’ll have two or three sentences. They’ll be short, and I’ll have spent the whole hour deleting half-finished sentences. I won’t even let one sentence take root before passing judgment on it.
That’s not really the craft or the process. That’s the temperament, a challenge of personality and attitude.
E. Don’t start with an image.
But some days I do start with the image, instead. It sometimes feels like cheating – to wrap some words below into a few koan-like sentences.
But against what referee am I cheating?
F. Don’t write on an empty subject.
Don’t write on an empty stomach.