More frequently than I write, I think about writing. I suppose that is the same with any passion, but more and more I think about writing my book. Behind story delivery, plot, character development, scenery, poetry/prose refinement, I am constantly searching for the answer to one looming question; What is it about my voice that is unique? My fantasy is that I’d be read like Salinger or Fitzgerald or Thoreau. That I’d make an impact like Vance or Kalanithi or Albom. Those are huge aspirations and provide attitude and a horizon line along my attempt at flight; but those are not my goals.
I have three baseline goals:
To publish a book
To carefully unearth and convey my message
To utilize my voice in a way that only I possibly am able
The rest of the shopping lists are only wants for me. These three are needs. If I can accomplish this, I hope the rest will follow in succession.
I had the opportunity to speak with an old mentor of mine yesterday. The intent of the body of the conversation was entirely unrelated to writing. But the advice I received and the path forward I saw as we were speaking carries over quite nicely to my goals in the world of pen and keyboard. As my brain often wants to do, I began today to review my Rolodex of analogies. The more I thought about it, the more I envisioned myself as a drop of water; those around me as drops themselves. What we have most in common is that we fell from the same system at the same time in history. We’ve all fallen at the peak of the mountain. We have no idea what journeys lie ahead. Some of us will freeze at points, only to melt and resume our trek down the mountainside. Some of us will filter through plants or trees, others may pass through the gills of a fresh-water brook trout or latch on to the fur of a grizzly bear. We’ll start and stop, turn and tumble, ebb and flow down the mountain, part of the greater river, dash against the rapid, cascade down the waterfall. At the top of the mountain, there’s no telling when we’ll surge and when we’ll get swallowed up. Even if we knew the path we could never predict the effect the water level would have on us as a drop; never be able to envision which organism, desperate for our nourishment, would require our vitality along their own separate journey within the shadow of the mountain. All the while, those other drops we started with may reach the gorge for sooner or later than we. Some may never make it. Some may toil ceaselessly while others, buffered by more exposed droplets, seem to endlessly emerge as victims of unforeseen obstacles.
So too, is it with us. We all journey down the same path. We all were born within a time-frame of history that allows us to experience the same, or similar, events. What creates a message, what builds the unrepeatable cadence of our voice is the manner by which we rebound from those unforeseen obstacles. There’s never a way to know what’s around the bend. That’s not our role. Our role is to filter our experience through our passions and create something worth leaving behind for those who might also find themselves searching for a map, or at least a few tools to manage the overwhelming landscape through which we are about to, or are in the midst of careening. The daunting concept that eludes me more frequently than not is that the system; the world, the mountain, history, the river, your family — those affected by your footprint, need your journey, your droplet, your cover, your protection — in order to be in the physical place they need to be at the time they need to be in order to fill the role they were created for.
That thought, errant or not, has been vital to the most recent fever-pitch igniting my passion, fueling my search for my voice, pushing me down the line along my way towards publication, and to help me carefully uncover and deliver my message, utilizing the tools and the maps I’ve managed to acquire for myself.
Yours In the Pursuit of Happiness,