Knowing

I used to write in the dark as if it were a secret.  I used to write without wondering what the words would mean to anyone else.  Long, wandering stories that dipped and ran and swelled. I’d swagger in the breeches of revolutionary soldiers. I lay in moon-lit meadows, my tears stroking the blood-soaked fur of wolves.

I’d seen nothing beyond the concrete streets of my suburban childhood. I daydreamed in the coat closets of classrooms.  I didn’t know war and the kicked-up dirt beneath the swingset was my only meadow.  Fribbles was a hamster we kept in the basement and I’d teach him acrobatic tricks as he hung from the rungs of number two pencils. But I knew I was a child of musketed revolutions, of forests and wood and rain-stained bark.  I knew, even with my stomach on the buckling rug, with my hair draped next to the bed’s dust-ruffle as I scribbled, that I spoke the language of wolves.

Somewhere along the way I lost all knowing.

Many people think I write a lot.  Even though most of my work remains unpublished, many friends know I have drafts and pages and dark-circled rings beneath my eyes from writing late into each night.  What they don’t know is all I don’t write, all I am too fearful to say, all the stories I will not try to put to a page because I question them, shake my finger at them, trample them before they can even get there. And what I don’t know has become too vast and overwhelming.  It cripples me.

Every part of me wishes to be the girl who knew how to stand on the soaring cliffs she’d never before seen and look down anyway.  Every morning, I think, maybe today I’ll be brave enough to write all I can’t.  Every night, I whisper to a burst of star I no longer see, how did you know? 

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6 thoughts on “Knowing

  1. I know that feeling — being crippled by worrying about what sells. What doesn't. What was just published, so that now my idea will be just a faded copycat.

    All I can say is that my biggest opportunity so far came when I sat down and wrote a story that I thought was probably dumb. So dumb I didn't even tell my agent about it and avoided sharing the premise with people, lest they laugh at me. I don't know how I got brave enough to write it.

    Melissa, you are brave enough. If you can envision the cliffs, then you have it in you to master them. I think it would be worse to see nothing but an endless plain.

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  2. This feeling lives within me and I fight with it daily (and usually lose.) Just know that even in confronting yourself IE in this post? It still has your Melissa stamp of beautiful/poetic/visual writing and even when you think you're failing at this and failing yourself….you are not. Here's the proof.

    Like

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