For some reason I sort of unconsciously fell into a pattern of writing about writing for the past few Fridays, which has turned out quite well despite the fact that what I know about the technical aspects of being published can be summed up in less than a paragraph. Since this is the last post I’ll do before Sunday, I thought I’d have to forgo anything along those lines and write something Valentine-ish.
Then again, maybe I could do both.
Because for writers, their craft is irreparably entangled in love. It is an affair of both the mind and the heart that is equal parts passion and indifference, joy and misery. It is falling in love and falling in hate all at the same time.
Both love and writing begin in much the same way. There is a bit of trepidation with a lot of Should I really be doing this? running through one’s mind. But the more you try to convince yourself you should ease away, the more it quietly pulls you in. And the more you remind yourself of the hurt and pain that may result, the more you’re also reminded of the sheer bliss.
And, eventually, you fall in. Fall in love with either a person or the act of giving thought and feeling life. Small steps at first—a flirtatious comment, a few short sentences. You have one foot upon a path that leads into a very black but very inviting unknown and the other safely planted in your own familiar but dull world, and you must choose. Will you plunge and offer your heart? Or will you instead play it safe, trusting that a familiar loneliness is better than the risk of a new and different one?
But then you come to the realization that you don’t really have a choice at all. To have one foot upon the path of the unknown is enough. You are in and on and there is no going back.
There are decisions that are arrived at by clear thinking and careful planning. Love is not one of them. Neither is writing. Those are decided by the heart. The mind may come along for the ride later. It also may not.
And therein lies the risk. Sometimes what we think is love isn’t really, just as sometimes what we consider destiny, one in a million, is temporary and common at best. Love and writing can both seem so simple and so easy at first, but they’re not. That’s what can happen when you approach both with much feeling and little thought.
You have to know what you’re getting into from the start.
With love and with writing.
Because it won’t always be easy. The shine can fade into shadow at times and the cloud you think you’re walking upon can evaporate and leave you tumbling. And you come to face the hard fact that what was once trouble-free is now fraught with it and the sunrise you thought you were enjoying is really a fire that threatens to consume you.
There is a truth to love, and it is the very same truth to writing—both take work. Hard, difficult, daily work. And without that work you are destined to fail. Because neither of them are the rocks we believe them to be. They are not enduring. They are not solid all the way through.
They are fragile, castles of sand facing a raging tide that must be built and rebuilt again.
And therein lies their worth.
The precious things in life are not the ones that last regardless, but the ones that must be tended to. The ones that must be nurtured and cared for and, above all, practiced. Love is like that. Writing, too. Both will wither without attention. Both can seem like the real thing and not be.
And both can bring a sense of peace and joy that few things in this world cannot. They are the means by which we seek to assure ourselves we are not alone in this world. That our thoughts and our feelings matter.
That we have a worth and a purpose beyond ourselves.