Only write what you know is very good advice. I do my best to stick to it. I wrote about gods and dreams and America because I knew about them. And I wrote about what it’s like to wander into Faerie because I knew about that. I wrote about living underneath London because I knew about that too. And I put people into the stories because I knew them: the ones with pumpkins for heads, and the serial killers with eyes for teeth, and the little chocolate people filled with raspberry cream making love, and the rest of them.
You’ve had twenty years of living, and dreaming. You probably have a fair idea of what it’s like to experience emotions, and to go places, and to do things, and to change. You’ve wondered about things you don’t know. You’ve guessed. You’ve hoped. You’ve probably lied — oddly enough, similar skills to those you’ll have used in convincing a teacher that you actually did do your homework but it was stolen by an escaped convict dressed as a nun will come in useful in writing fiction. Ditto for the skills involved in writing a passing grade essay on something you know absolutely nothing about. Relax. Fake it. Mean it.
And you don’t need to figure it all out before you start writing. You can figure it out while you’re writing. Or you can fail to figure it out; that’s allowed too.” —
Actually, this time I’m quoting me, in my journal:
She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally, decided to walk through the door. A smile caught her lips, rising up through the contours of her face until it touched her eyes, sparkling there, eroding the ambivalence that had plagued her for so long. A sigh, small and content, followed the smile. Briefly her eyes closed, the world around her disintegrating. Form becoming symbol becoming thought, ideas flowing back from where they had been conjured. There is only her, and her decision.
Her eyes open. The world returns. The door lies, waiting.
A breath. Always a breath, before a journey. And a glance back. Always a glance back. It’s the human thing to do.
The book lay on the table where she had left it. Leather bound, dusty, and single-minded. An essence, a representative to the single thought that had gone behind it, that was it, that gave it life.
Stacks of books, hundreds, were strewn about the room. Each one a single element of the puzzle, a single opinion or option. An aspect to be devoured. Each one contributing to the confusion or elation of her mind’s discernment of patterns, forming and fitting paths to follow and investigate.
Thoughts. Ideas. Each book a point to be made, another its counterpoint. All the things one needed to make her decision a very, very difficult one.
She glanced around the room. Some books were well read, broken spines and dog-eared pages, laid aside for a time then investigated further, when the nagging that there was something she missed, something she had not considered, needed to be addressed.
Her eyes flicker, guiltily, to a corner. Some texts she had not let stand. So dark, so forbidden to enter the realm of her mind that they had to be purged. They had not gone quietly, fragments of pages and words all that remained, each one a swirl of pulped paper and ink stained violence. She shook her head, sharply, once, and looked away.
Her glance fell upon another section of the room, where the books were organized, tended for. These were sentimental. Dear to her, with their ornate covers and beautiful prose. These would be the hardest to leave behind. They, more than anything else, had kept her from leaving, staying in this wretched room with all its ambivalence and cold familiarity. The decision would have been made long ago if not for these, the things she wished she could take with her. She shook her head, more softly this time, then looked away.
The door. There had not always been just one, only one choice, not when she first arrived. At first they had seemed infinite, stretching around her and under her, overwhelming her soul with possibility. Doors of stone and flesh, of wood and steel, doors that she could barely see and doors that had seemed to fill her vision with their prominence.
She had sat among them, hunkered down, and read.
As the books were finished and processed, the doors changed in turn, some changing shape, became something more defined, most disappearing completely, dying, when their potential had ended. As they dwindled, she had become more and more encouraged, her reading becoming full of intent until finally, inevitably, the decision had been made.
She gazed up at the door before her. Simplicity bound it together, the opening leading to her new reality. As she moved forward, the world behind her again began to dissolve, releasing her, its purpose completed.
The sigh came again. The smile returned to her lips. And she walked through.