I used to think my writing would save me. I used to think my life was something to endure, and eventually, when I hit it "big" everything would be fine.
I don't think that anymore.
I can't stop it. I can't start it. When it goes, it goes, and I sit back and watch it happen.
It's my "craft", they say. It's art. It's a gift. God blessed you with this ability, you should use it, they say.
I do. I sit and type out dream girls. I climb mountains. I rescue princesses. I ride huge white horses with wings, swoop down and save Andromeda night after night. I win wars single-handedly. Wrestle bears and win. The stroke of luck is always on my side and when I am not lucky I'm smart enough to come up with and execute the one ingenius plan that saves the earth from total devastation. I am Billy Pilgrim. I am George Bailey. I am Audie Murphy. I am Perseus.
Today while I was eating my granola bar for breakfast the writing girl said to me:
If there was no you
There would be no anything
I don't hear her with my ears. I don't hear a voice in my head. An idea comes to me. Clear as day, for no good reason. I may be reading the newspaper or typing an e-mail to my boss and she'll say:
Total suspension of judgement
I'm not even sure I know what that means.
There's an author who is now pretty famous but she wasn't when I first met her. In fact, she hadn't even published her first book. Diana Gabaldon said to me, when I asked her if any of the stuff she'd written had ever come true:
"Of course. It always does. That's the writing magic."
I said, "No, not that the characters are 'real' to you, but, you know. Say you write a story about a guy driving a green Porsche. Then, you start seeing them everywhere. And the next thing you know you park at Macy's and right in front of you a guy pulls into a parking space in a green Porsche. And the license plate says, 'GOTCHA' Or something."
"What are you asking me,OwlBoy?" she said.
"Does it ever come true?"
"I told you. All the time."
Then I wrote an entire novel about a guy going to Antarctica. Then, a year later, I was there. I was standing at the bottom of the earth, scratching my head, thinking, "Is this real? Am I in my story?"
And the novel wasn't even published.
Over my entire life I've made enough money writing to buy a high mileage mostly rusted 1977 tan Ford Torino with torn bench seats. My family would starve if I had to feed them on the money I make writing. I wouldn't even have enough money to keep the Torino running.
But it comes true. It exists on a physics all it's own.
And then the physics leaks.
Someone walks up out of the very blue. Says, "Come with me."
"This is a joke."
"Why would you say that?"
Step off the plane onto the sea ice expecting fall to through it when it dissolves to the cobwebs of dreams. See imagined storybook scenes solid and tangible. The mind's eye becoms the optic nerve. The cold is real. The caustic daylight is warm and bites at the same time.
"Why is this happening?"
"I needed a science tech."
"But I'm not a science tech. I'm not even a good programmer. Why me? Why now, right after I finished writing this very thing in a book?"
"You wrote a book?"
Some days, I stare at the blank page and try to write, and it doesn't work. I get worried. Maybe I've become "normal". Maybe the writing has gone away and I'm just like every other person who doesn't care about being a writer. Maybe the angels have left me.
But they don't leave, ever. They say:
That would be silly.
We needed a break.
We went to Cancun.
The diving was great.
Stay away from the Cadillac margaritas, though. Whoo.
And then I have weeks where I can't stop. There are more stories inside me than outside. I can't type them fast enough.
"What if I didn't write?" I ask my weird angel.
Where I come from, we call that bullshit.
You're lucky I've said this much.
"What about all the love stories I write? What about the women? The one with the eagles and the one with the blue ice and the one in the Space Shuttle? Do they come true, too?"
Keep me in the loop. Take pictures.
Especially if people get naked.
"Will I die like the guy in my story? Full of cancer, having lost all the people he ever loved? Searching for a God who only answers in riddles?"
Do you want to?
Once a couple years ago while I was running on a treadmill at my company's gym (yes, I worked for a company that provided a fully-equipped gym for its employees, but not anymore) my angel told me to write, I swear to God, and I haven't written it down till this very moment:
Anger is a wasted emotion.
You were built to be happy.
You are healthiest when you have a sense of humor about things
This includes pain
You are lucky to have it
Someday you will miss it.
You will fail at everything you do out of anger
Anger is not a sin. It is a waste of time. Wasting time is a crime against yourself.
There was an infinity of probable DNA combinations that could have created human life the day you were born. The possibility it would be you, is exactly one. One divided by infinity is something very very close to zero. So the possibility you would be here right now is that very tiny number, close to zero. You have a better chance of being hit by lightning thirty two times in a row in the basement of a children's toy superstore than being born.
You would win every lottery on planet earth, every spin, for two hundred years, before you would approximate the odds of being born.
And here you are.
Things I believe
I believe in God.
I believe all human attempt to clarify the true nature of God are wrought with imperfection. God is a multi-dimensional concept which we can only perceive in terms of the four-dimensional "shadow" it casts upon our reality. Trying to understand God, or develop a mythology around it/him/whatever, is like trying to define the true nature of an elephant by looking at the shadow it casts on a concrete parking lot while it's suspended by a helicopter 100 feet in the air on a sunny day.
I believe God is the creative force from which all things emerge. The force that drives DNA to replicate is God. The spark of life that animates all things is God.
It is the act of the artist to channel the creative force. The soul is the emmisary of God--the image of God in the self which brings, through the being, creation and destruction into the physical world.
Pray you never get everything you want. Hell is having everything.
You cannot write when you have everything you want. "Having" stunts the creative act. It is the void that must be filled that drives the writer, engineer, musician, painter, sculptor.
I believe Love is the fundamental destructive force. Love destroys leaving fertile ground for creation. Love tears down all barriers. Love is the nuclear weapon of the soul. It tears down some things it shouldn't. Love is how we come to understand the duality of God and ourselves.
I believe the single greatest human failing is our inabilility to perceive the fundamental, mathematical improbability of the existence of any one of us, and so to cast judgement upon the other for beliefs or actions which are in discord with our own. Casting human judgement upon others in the name of religion, politics, or philosophy, does not contribute to human progress and so is the best definition of "evil".
I believe one of the most terrifying concepts to people is the nagging suspicion that God may not sit in judgement of anything or anyone, for any reason.
I believe the human race will either succeed or fail as a whole.
I believe I am imperfect and incapable of achieving 100% compliance to my own beliefs. I believe all people are the same to their beliefs. Imperfection is the beauty of the world, and the motivator for the creative act.
I believe later I'll have more, better beliefs.
My writing will not save me. My beliefs will not save me. I'm not even sure what I need to be saved from, but I believe I will be the last person saved. All the rest of you will be long gone by the time they come for me.
I believe I will die. I believe I have done it before.