“Show me your original face before you were born.” – Zen Koan
In early December I decided to write a short story. A character had come to me in writing practice and I wanted to develop her. But my motives were impure. I decided to write a short story because I didn’t feel like a real writer and I got it into my head that real writers write fiction. As you can imagine, the character didn’t cooperate. She didn’t go where I wanted her to go or do what I wanted her to do. And just forget about making her say what I wanted her to say. It was a disaster.
On New Year’s Eve my husband and I hosted a meditation party. In the silence shortly before midnight, I realized my error. I had forgotten who I was. I was comparing myself to other writers and laying someone else’s ideas of what it means to be a writer onto my little life. It wasn’t working.
I had to get back to my original face, the face I had before I gave birth to all the ideas in my head of what it is to be a real writer. I also had to let go of what I thought my short story was supposed to look like, and just write. After all, it’s not really me writing. It’s not little Nita who thinks she’s got to prove something to the world. It is just a hand moving across a page letting the story tell itself. Now that I stepped out of the way, the short story is going quite well.
If you want to make a resolution for the New Year, start by dropping your ideas of who you are and what you have to say. Drop the thoughts and let your original face shine through with smiling teeth or missing teeth or bloody fangs. Step out of your ideas and into pure action. Just write and let us see who you really are.
Nita(Hello! It’s me!)Sweeney
(c) 2004 by Nita Sweeney