‘Beware the ides of November,’ the loremaster neglected to say to his student.
The student, thus uninformed, crashed horribly into November 13th. He had nothing more to say, and he said it. Loudly, distinctly, for all the world to hear.
He predictably became a bestseller.
I am not that guy. Not yet, at any rate. But I have proven to my own satisfaction that I can write 1000 words in an hour. And, having proven, I haven’t. In proof of my not proving my proof, here’s the latest Word Count for my spectacular stab at a 60k word November:
That’s the most recent word count because that is where I stopped. In one of those writerly quirks of the creative process, I found myself stalled in the middle of a battle scene, wondering if I actually believed in what I’d written a scene before.
“All the same,” the loremaster looked up, his eyes glittering, “they are powerful words. Powerful words give the one who believes them power to act. Remember that also…”
The battle I was reporting would, in some ways, seem to subvert those words. The victor is the cunning, cynical warlord, not the strong-willed idealist. Of the battle, if not the war. (One of the interesting things about this story is that I haven’t found out who wins the war yet.)
If you’ve been following the Paradoxes, you’ll know that I believe in the power of words. In one sense, the loremaster is my cameo in the story. My conviction inspires the actions of the characters. Because I have made reading and writing and thinking about words my career, of sorts, these lives, these people, find words of their own to shape their own destinies.
Fictional, of course.
But, I wondered dismally, did it really matter?
Like I said, I know that I can write 1000 words in one hour, words that I’m reasonably happy with, that I can fiddle with and improve. But I consistently fail to do that. In fact the other demands on my life, time, and energy–including the website–seem to consume my life, time, and energy. Strange, that.
Of course, loremaster, I will remember. But is remembrance and action the same thing? Or is the power of the words not inherent–power instead in action, in belief? Power in the idea behind the words and not in the words themselves?
If I’m writing for an idea–the idea of making a word count, meeting a deadline–I find thinking about how I’m not doing it much easier. The more I write this month, the more ideas I find flooding my mind. More inspirations, more projects, more stories. At the same time, I find myself the more reluctant to face them. And less willing to write.
This process called writing, molding these words and their power–over my characters at least, and perhaps over me–is like grieving. It demands something of me, the way a strong book will demand something of its readers. Except much, much more. It draws itself out in anguish, agony, bringing deep-rooted changes to places in myself I’d rather leave undisturbed.
This, of course, is what it means to create. To write true words, we write from an empty place, a wounded place, and find meaning there. We are peregrines, wandering in woods thickly shadowed, lost in our grief to find the silver moonlight waiting in the glade. These words have power–not just to make me act, but to act on me.
He hoped, desperately, that luck would not be as fickle a mistress as before.
Here’s to the next fifteen days.