I have this thing I'm trying to write. It's about living and pain and breath and the astonishing vitality and beauty of the small things that make up our lives.
So, I ask myself. Why do I do this thing? This thing of writing? This weird, lonely task that I have set myself? I mean nobody ever tells anyone they have to be a writer. Honestly. We choose ourselves. There's really no one else to blame for this.
So I fume for awhile and go back to the thing I'm writing and hate it. I hate everything I've said. It's all wrong and it will never be right. I will never say the thing I'm trying to say.
I get up and walk around town, looking in windows and taking a movie out of the library I will not watch.
I come back to the computer and mess around with the words again. They are saying the same things over and over and not getting to the heart of what it is I want to say and do I actually really know what that is? and I think I should just give up.
Only I've decided I'm a writer, so I don't. I dive into the middle of the words and I pull out the ones that aren't cooperating and then I've pulled them all out and I'm staring at a blank page again.
Only it's not the same blank page.
I stare for a long time and then something starts to coagulate into a new thought. Now I see that I was starting in the wrong place and I have something different to write, something that comes from a richer place inside me, and it's good. Well, I hope it is.
And I work it out onto the page, writing and rewriting and refining over and over and in most ways it's not as good as the vision in my head was, but in other ways, it's better. It's better because it forced me to look for it. I had to dive deeper and discover more than I had planned to say, and in some places less than I had planned to say, and somehow, it falls together in the end and I can breathe again.
Ok, then, I say to myself, I'll keep writing another day.
Sarah Anne Shockley believes that writing can be a deeply transformative process for both author and reader. She has published books on travel and living with chronic pain. Her latest book, The Pain Companion, will be released by New World Library June 2018. She is currently working on a YA magical realism novel set in Guatemala.