How my sinuses caused a writer’s epiphany

As I write this, I can’t breathe. (Ok, ok, obviously I can breathe, but that’s what it feels like. If you haven’t noticed by now, writers tend to exaggerate. That’s kind of the job).

I went for a walk Thursday night when my eyes started streaming unexpectedly with tears. Sometime between then and Saturday morning my sinuses decided to not just move in but throw themselves a big welcome party. And then blow up.

The good news, though, is that since I haven’t left my apartment for the last sixty hours, I’ve had a lot of time to think. And read, which causes me to think some more.

And, in true writer fashion, I’ve come to convince myself that my sinuses wish to teach me a lesson in the form of a metaphor. They could’ve done it in a much nicer way that would’ve required less tissues and gingerale, but I guess they had to get my attention somehow.

And what I’ve learned is this: my wonderfully complicated concept for a novel is stuck up in my brain and is literally making me sick. It’s not going to write itself. I have to get it out somehow.

I would like it to come out perfectly. I would like to coax it out slowly, at just the right temperature, while measuring out the exact amount of love and support that will allow it to mature and blossom beautifully. I would like it to come out all neatly tied up in a little bow that I can read to myself – God forbid I would show it to anyone else – and think Gosh, aren’t I smart. Way to go, me. This is simply the most wonderful thing I’ve ever read – probably the most wonderful thing I ever will read.

Not going to happen.

It’s not going to be perfect. It’s not going to be fabulous. And it won’t be pretty. It might not make sense to anyone else but me.

But it will. Words can be changed. Nothing’s ever written in stone.

And I have to let it out. Even if it sucks. Especially if it sucks.

Only once it’s out can I then make it better. Only then will I be able to mould it into what I really want it to be rather than relying on it to come out as a brilliant piece of art in the first place.

And that’s ok. I shouldn’t expect myself to produce a Giller-prize winner on my first try, on my first draft.

And yet, I do.

But thanks to my sinuses, they have taught me that even when I’m not writing a masterpiece – even when it seems like I’m repeating myself ad nauseam with words and phrases that have been written a million times before by other people – I still have to let it out. That’s kind of the point.

All I can do is write. The rest will take care of itself.

And I’ll feel much better, anyway, once I have a slab in front of me to work with rather than an immaculate hand-made bowl that I hope to slap together out of thin air.

“So let go/just get in/oh, it’s so amazing here/it’s all right, cause there’s beauty in the breakdown.” -“Let Go,” Frou Frou


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