The Book Is Writing You

By Staff Writer Courtney Walker

Steven Pressfield talks about the Resistance. A different friend talked about the vulnerability of being led by the inner desire for excellence that shows how much you care about what you are working on. To let that desire lead you to a type of perfection. That you will not let the work see the light of day until you know you’ve given it your all. To bring that level of vulnerability to it.

The Resistance works to keep that vulnerability in its place. Buried. Frightened in a corner, shivering at the possibility of rejection. It is tumescence, pure and simple. The vulnerability consistently, speaking from my own experience, calls forth the Resistance until you break it loose enough to pour more smoothly out of you. There is a lot of rusty water that has to flow out before it runs clean. There is a lot of power available in the cleaning out of the rust. That power is needed to keep the water flowing free and clear.

It is no small thing. And yet, it cannot be approached as some grand gesture to affect or change the world. This project, like every project we are tasked with, called to, or have grabbed hold of, is not about the very lofty goal at the end of the vision rainbow. And yet it is. To give fully of yourself, to give your heart, soul, excellence, and enjoyment, to give your creativity and not rely solely on your production and work output, to cultivate fulfillment in what you are doing – these are what you keep your eyes on. What you feel for. It’s how you sense if what you are doing is on the spot. The journey is both about how much you can become you to get to the end of that rainbow, and where you are genuinely of service to others. They wind up being the same thing. A friend always says, “If this thing, whatever it is, doesn’t fly, but you become the person we can all feel inside of you, then it was a success.”

Another friend said, “The book is writing you,” as I spoke about a book project I am working on with a couple of other friends. My childhood, teenage, and adulthood dreams of writing a book never looked like this. Certainly never felt like this. So many people, including myself, idealize the writer. There is a romanticizing. The brooding nature, tortured by the art that wants to come through them. Or the bon vivant, raconteur chronicler of life, highlighting the satire of reality. Pick your flavor. They are all seductive. And they all feel far from the truth. They feel like facets of the whole experience. But the personalities we ascribe to the writer and what writing is seem like terrible facsimiles of what occurs. I don’t think my experience is uncommon, but I will continue to speak from it alone. I do think I understand now why there is a feeling of torture, why the drive to drink is a stereotype.

I have come to understand that to get down in the depths of the substance I am writing about is a spiritual experience. It is a means of growth unlike many others I have tried. The range of things in my unconscious that I must see, acknowledge, confront, approve of, work through, and share about on the other side (or often in the middle) of them just to keep writing every day is beyond maybe one or two experiences I have gotten myself into in this life. From race to womanhood to simply feeling feelings and expressing them, letting them be felt by others without self-consciousness. This is what this book is writing for me. It is writing me into myself.

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