2011 was the year of the crash. My crash. With my manuscript.
And here’s the kicker: It’s taken me a full 12 months to the day to realize this crash was assuredly, if painfully, needed. I hit a necessary obstacle. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. The book that existed this time last year is not the book I intended to write. It was the starting line. It needed work. And not just the work of sitting my ass in this chair and writing for the sake of filling up the pages, but the kind of introspection and attention where every section, every paragraph and sentence, needed to be fleshed out and filled back in; the kind where my best ideas came when I was not actually in this chair, but somewhere else.
Sometimes the big crash comes to make you stop, to snap your brain, to force you to put down your pen with it’s bleeding blue ink and give the thing a chance to breathe.
I’m breathing better, too. I’ve been back to jogging for 7 weeks now. Today was the first time I chucked the jog and ran sprints. Today was the first time I ran the entire way with my eyes trained forward, on the distance, instead of with my head ducked down, wary of the rocks and obstacles that might trip me up. Today I came home with two sentences I didn’t even know I was looking for.
In a 1965 interview, William Styron said, I’ve always thought that time was a challenge. I have a feeling the good writer will set up obstacles for himself. He will try to make his story as difficult to write as possible, to see if he can leap over these obstacles with grace. I’ve always felt I had to do this with everything I’ve written to give the work a sort of tension. If I’d ever written anything in a simple and straightforward way, it would have lacked that tension. The use of time is often the most convenient way to set up these obstacles.
Hey Bill, I was born in 1965. Last night, 12 months to the day, I heard this song and felt something shake loose. I was listening to it this morning, running, when I found those two missing sentences. What are the chances?