emptiness and writing

I think there is a type of emptiness to writing that I have yet to confront.

The process itself is an emptying. I am allowing thoughts and ideas to leave my mind and move onto the page. In some ways, I think that I am giving them permanence. They are no longer etherial, no longer bandied about in my brain. They are on the page. In some ways, they become an absolute. A concrete example of my thinking.

But they are also changeable, erasable. If I lose a document or a note, do I lose the idea? Not fully. No. But in part the idea or the thought or the notion could never be the same as it was when I originally wrote it. If it is replication then it is, of course, a replication. It is no longer original.

By writing and putting the thoughts onto the page I am creating something wholly original to myself. However, I am also removing a part of myself. When I peel away loose skin, it grows back. But the replacement is not the original. It is the replication.

When you think of it that way, writing is a removal of the interior self. The removed portion is made exterior and is no longer apart of the original source.

This is the fear that comes to me most often in writing. What if I were to remove an idea and nothing ever came to replace it? Essentially, what if I eventually say everything that I have to say? What if I have written something that was the best that I could have done and everything else is a dim replication of the only good idea that I had?

I think about this often. Largely because when I finish something I don’t always have an idea waiting for me. I sometimes have false starts and begin to get nervous that there are no more stories in me. Would that be tenable? Could I handle that type of silence?

I can say that I have been writing steadily for nearly two years. About 500 words a night for most nights. Many stories have been finished in that time. Even one novella. Will there always be things to write? Will I run out?

I’m not sure. I can say that I will always have a fear of emptiness. I don’t want to be a dried husk with nothing more to say.

I do, however, have a quote that I look back on often. John Langan once said (I’m paraphrasing) that the imagination was like a dog. If the dog brings you a toy and you refuse to play with it, it will come back again. If you continue to refuse it for long enough, the dog will stop trying. If you refuse new ideas for long enough they will stop coming.

I’ve always thought that was a smart comparison. The imagination and the ability to think of new and interesting ideas is a nudge. Not always a push or pull, but a subtle motion that you have to train your brain to recognize. I feel like I run with most ideas. Even if they are bad or I’m not ready to handle them yet.

But I also often think of emptiness.


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