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Friday, March 22, 2013

When You're Writing Til 7 AM, I Love You--and That Will Save My Writing

Writing all night long. A soft pressure in the back, and sides of your eyeballs. A dryness on your lids. A weird taste on your tongue no matter how many times you lick your teeth. One hand's pressing harder against the keyboard than the other, and that's driving the edge into your wrist. It'll leave a stupid-looking itchy mark. Unshowered, unkempt, and with eyes like a ghost in the sallow face of a fresh zombie...

That's when I love you most.

"What?" you say. "You don't even know me!"

But you know you. You know who's got a crick in her neck or a slow burn at the base of his back from stooping over the keyboard. And I know you exist.

Maybe you're not a writer. Maybe you're a student, fingers stumbling through your textbook for tomorrow's test. (Oh wait, it's today's now.) Maybe you're a construction worker who just got back from working the cold, dead twilight shift so commuters can drive during the day without hitting you. You whacked your finger with something today. Your whole spine's an electrical arc of pain. You stubbed your toe coming in.

I love you! I love you so much! You are most beautiful to me, right now, as you strain and suffer and blink and sigh, aching just for a pillow as you shuffle onward. Oh my wonderful reader, you're the flame that makes humanity worth reading and writing about. You're the gold purified by fire, and my heart here, splattered a bit foolishly all over this page, goes out to you. We write about you. Every single story ultimately longs for a rest, a denouement, a catharsis. Every hero and every good villain hurts for his or her own peace. The advice forums talk about conflict, about immediacy in your scenes, and I'm suffering to implement that right now, but--but! But because of you. Because of you I strain, because straining is what we are about, and straining makes beautiful stories. You know, as modern medicine eliminated our diseases, our immune systems had nothing to fight, so they began to fight us--that's diabetes, allergies, most Western diseases, and the story of how we're made, from body to soul to mind: we are made to struggle. 

So we struggle. We shuffle. We fly.

We fall.

And we rest.

That's the story of our lives. That's the story of our all-nighters. And that's the "formula" that will save our writing. All beguiling characters, gripping plots, and electric voices come from this formula.

It's the formula that will save the world.

"For we who have believed enter that rest." Hebrews 4:3

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