Anyone remember a trilogy from the 90’s called The Matrix? I thought so. It was a thought-provoking series for many of us and enjoyable on many levels. I’ve been thinking about one particular line from the first film a lot lately. It’s when Neo visits the Oracle. She gives him the following advice about being “the one”.
“Being the one is just like being in love. No one can tell you you’re in love. You just know it. Through and through. Balls to bones.”
Writing is a lot like this for me. I know I’m a writer, have known it for longer than I have vocally admitted it. It is as the oracle said something that you know balls to bones. I have that level of understanding about what I am, but these days, I’m questioning that level of commitment in my craft. The writing is solid but my ‘life’ has been on a collision course with chaos for two years, and I have begun to realize that I did something smart for me on a personal level and deadly on a writing level. Emotionally, I clocked out. This has allowed the horrid circumstances surrounding me to not destroy me. However, my writing has all the emotional honesty of a pet rock.
I’m not sure I’ve ever been an honest writer. I’d love to lay it all on the page the way Les Edgerton does. I read his stories and the gut ravaging honesty is in every word, hell, every bit of punctuation. Of course, the second semester of grad school I was given two mandates – no more emotion and no more killing. Man, I write mysteries. Killing people was what I did best, and I lived for it. It was both the worst and the best thing that ever happened to me. My writing itself improved. The melodrama disappeared (I hadn’t even realized it was there), and I found the drama inherent in life beyond dead bodies. Still, it may have done more damage than I realized.
After grad school, I was a writer by definition. I sold my stories. I marketed my YA novel. But I am sad to say that I am a bit adrift. I’m a mystery writer having difficulty killing people. I have an adult mystery novel based on one of the worst of all emotional situations for a parent – that of a missing child – and I’m having difficulty getting that voice out of my head. No emotion! No killing! I yell at it to shut up, and it simply yells louder.
Now, the Oracle’s voice is replacing it, telling me to go all in “balls to bones”. I have to put as much of myself into the writing as exists in me. If it truly is all of me, I have to find a way to shove aside the doubts, the voices that say anything other than, “Write!”
What do you do when your commitment waivers?