Writing a Book Can Make You Come Alive

My last post about writing a book revealed only part of the truth—one pole of the paradox. It dwelt on the possibility of being humbled, of discovering that you don’t know as much as you imagine you do.

It’s equally true that writing a book can reveal how wise you are. It may unearth the untold riches that lie within you—the insights, stories, and golden light of clarity (and only you) that you can shine on the subject that you love.

Consider the video at the end of this post. It’s a keynote speech by Ray Bradbury—novelist, short story writer, screenwriter, and poet.

I can’t agree with everything that Bradbury says. (For a science fiction and fantasy writer, he was a bit of a Luddite.) Yet no one speaks more eloquently about the sheer pleasure of writing:

Writing is not a serious business. It’s a joy and a celebration. You should be having fun with it…. I’ve never worked a day in my life. The joy of writing has propelled me from day to day and year to year. I want you to envy me, my joy.

What if you reach a point where you feel blocked? This is not always a sign that you’ve failed or have little to say. It can simply mean that you’ve lost contact with what you care about. As Bradbury says:

In the middle of writing something you go blank and your mind says: “No, that’s it.” Ok. You’re being warned, aren’t you? Your subconscious is saying “I don’t like you anymore. You’re writing about things I don’t give a damn for.” You’re being political, or you’re being socially aware. You’re writing things that will benefit the world. To hell with that! I don’t write things to benefit the world. If it happens that they do, swell. I didn’t set out to do that. I set out to have a hell of a lot of fun.

The paradox is that writing can feel like hell. It can also feel like a bolt of ecstasy.

Or anything in between.

Ultimately, no one can tell you how it go will for you. You’ll make your own path by writing into it.