Writing into an Abyss

black hole.fwEach time I write, it’s always the same. I start on a blank page with a subject in mind and proceed, sometimes not knowing where I’m going or whether I’m equipped to make the journey, but going anyway.

It’s on this journey that I find my way, the journey of a thousand miles beginning with the first step, those first thoughts that become the stepping stones to the next leg of the journey.

I like to use the metaphor of ‘journey’ to refer to the writing process, for writing, like life, resembles a ‘journey’, where there is an element of uncertainty, adventure and difficulty. There are all kinds of gradations that force you to move at different speeds, depending on which plane you are traveling – up, down or on flat surfaces. Sometimes you find yourself accelerating; other times, stuck in the mud. It can be a real roller coaster ride or like driving a bumper car in circles, going front and back, bumpety bump, returning you to just about where you started.

When you begin writing, in whatever mode or method you start out, you make your way forward, down the page, word over word, paragraph by paragraph, in no exact order, to realize that you have advanced because you have kept at it, if for no other reason, than persistence.

Persistence is a thread that keeps things going, but it is not the glue that adheres the whole. That’s where vision comes in, where purpose helps drive the ship, even if you are writing into an abyss.

You might say that there is an inner logic only you can understand when you are writing. How that logic appears on the outside depends on how attuned you are to your audience, where they’ve been and the truth that resonates between you and them.

As a writer, all I really care about is now because if I start to focus on the end, whether it’s the end of a sentence or the end of a story, it is like projecting into the future, which is hard to predict, especially if there is no precedent or pattern to which you can look. Take away the surprise, the mystery of the future, and why bother?

As your journey is underway, time somehow forgives you for moving in all directions, which is a given for this writing life and its elastic nature and how it bends to fit the new landscapes that you create going between the past and the future while trying to stay present. Time is always a factor, a constraint to some extent, but a necessary element that is part of moving forward.

I repeat. You must go back to move forward. And vice versa.

When you realize that you only have so much time, whether it is time to get published or time to wrap it up or time to put it away or time to make a living or the many other myriad uses of time, time has the final say, stepping in to bring things to an end.

It is a weird feeling to be writing into an abyss, with no agenda per se, except to advance and hope for the best.

Where are you going? Why are you going there? What is it that you have to illustrate? What is it that you must communicate?

In this darkness you discover why you have come. It is simply another exercise in which practice makes perfect. Although an exercise of sound and fury signifying nothing, thru the abyss there is light and, you, a timeless traveler, passing through.