How deep are we willing to go to create our art? It’s a painful business so who in their right mind would choose to subject themselves to such pain? And for what? Words on a page that, if we’re lucky, a percentage of a percent of our target audience will read. Even if they’re in their thousands, or tens of thousands, is their momentary indulgence in our world worth the price?
There are millions of books written by very earnest and talented writers. They move us and they make us laugh or cry, or somewhere in between, but deep in our hearts we know that what the writer has done is to primarily entertain us, albeit with zombies, or gunslingers, detectives or clowns.
But what happens when the need to tell a story comes from so deep inside a writer that they have to flay themselves open to access it? When she, or he, types for so long and so hard that her fingers bleed. When she reaches into a place beyond her heart, beyond her soul, beyond the edges of everything she’s ever known. When there is nothing underneath her feet. Not love, not hope, nothing but the interface between her words and someone who will read them, her keyboard.
She will write until her shoulders are on fire with the strain. Bathroom breaks are so fleeting that she thinks she imagined it. Food is a thing of dreams and not necessary. Sleep will not come until the words are all wrenched from every bone in her body and splayed on the page.
This is our art. Don’t be deluded into thinking otherwise. We may sit at our computers, in the relative comfort of our offices, or beds or coffee-houses. We may write something that we can re-read and not feel that we’ve done too badly, we may even feel a quiet pride in it. We submit it to our publisher or our agent, or to anyone we think might read it and publish it, or we publish it ourselves. But this piece, we know in the core of our being, where we hide the secrets we will never tell to anyone else, is not the complete truth of our art.
This is acceptable, for the moment. The blood we shed when we write from our sacred place is rare and so very precious that it cannot be leeched randomly, or in any great quantities. But when our eyes find their vision in that deepest place, we see what we have created and know that we are not content with it.
Perhaps we will stay hidden, even from our selves and never, at least in this lifetime, write our blooded words. Or, it may take us years, decades even, until we find whatever it is within us to write with that blood.
One day, for no apparent reason, we will sit at our typewriters, our tablets, our keyboards, and the words will flow out of us as though we have slashed open the arteries that carry our lifeblood. We will sharpen the tips of our spirits and dip them into our blood and write, in scarlet letters, what we have contended with from the beginnings of our lives.
We will write the story. We will not stop until its done, our blood will not stop flowing until it is done. Our minds will not cease to dredge those hidden places until it is done. This is how deep we are willing to go.
I have tasted my blood-ink. It is familiar to me. Words have flowed from me as though an unstoppable waterfall. It has happened in the past. One day I will write like this again.
“I hope you will go out and let stories happen to you, and that you will work them, water them with your blood and tears and you laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom” – Clarissa Pinkola Estes – Author of Women Who Run With The Wolves