“Writing itself, if not misunderstood and abused, becomes a way of empowering the writing self. It converts anger and disappointment into deliberate and durable aggression, the writer’s main source of energy. It converts sorrow and self-pity into empathy, the writer’s main means of relating to otherness. Similarly, his wounded innocence turns into irony, his silliness into wit, his guilt into judgment, his oddness into originality, his perverseness into his stinger.”
–Ted Solotaroff, “Writing in the Cold: The First Ten Years”
Thought for today: What is sometimes unhealthy obsession is sometimes good for the soul.
That would be writing. I love how Solotaroff understands the inner aggression of writers that drives us back to the desk. Some days, I feel the same competitive surge writing as I do when I root and holler for my favorite team. That surge is like the hunter’s instinct, like the athlete’s zeal, like the warrior’s will. In all these instances, there’s something holier about the motive when it is for a higher cause. When the hunter needs to feed the family and not just hang a trophy; when the athlete strives for his team and not self; when the warrior fights to save lives and not greed; then, you can’t say aggression is wrong. It’s a life force.
Likewise, when I write from a certain level of intensity, of not just belief in what I’m doing but assurance that there is a right, a wrong, and a need for what I’m doing, then there is something magical that occurs.
I can’t write from the desire to bring forth a bestseller (though I do). I must write from the desire to be heard. That’s the holiest reason. And not for the “I” to be heard but the story. The story is all.
I’ve written a story I believe in. It’s a tale that reveals horror, but I had to tell it. It’s truth as I see it. It has received ten rejections.
Today I received another rejection that read this way:
Dear Lyn Fairchild Hawks:
Thank you for sending us “________”.
Unfortunately this particular piece was not a right fit for _______, but we were very impressed by your writing. We hope that you will feel encouraged by this short note and send us something else.
We look forward to reading more.
The Editors of _______
I was delighted. My story was heard. It didn’t fit this venue, but it was read. It will be heard by more than editors.
The aggression surges in me for a second, and now I’m back in the seat, strapped in, ready to roll.
Let’s roll. It’s on. Let’s write.