Weathering Uncertainty

The writing process is, by nature, imbued with uncertainty. How could it be otherwise? Every time I’m struck (either by lightning or with a leaf) by an idea, I have the tendency to want to enshrine it–to make it something that by nature it is not. The idea leaps whole and fresh out of the bottomless pool of inspiration, and then my mind starts kneading it like putty, and pretty soon that initial idea is no longer itself. Then my mind kicks in, working to reproduce that fresh-live feeling of the initial idea. Maybe because the thought, the image, the impulse, was so raw and so vivid, so not-mine, so not-me. It does not want to be tamed or pinned down or made static. It runs, flees, from my mind, and the more I run after it, the farther away it gets.

There’s nothing to be done about it. I have to be willing to weather uncertainty, and its opposite, false certainty.

Getting up to write in the early morning can help. Waking in the hour before dawn, the world still quiet, I’m mostly in that liminal place, not one thing or another, not really asleep, not really awake. I am vulnerable, needing coffee, needing my pen, needing to warm up. There is still a small crack in the world that may let in a tender, newborn idea or two. Hopefully I can catch it.

Other stages of writing also engender deep uncertainty, from the drafting stages to finally sending a manuscript out to be read by others. Surely, this is the most vulnerable space of all. Wanting the work to have something of that early morning warble to it, wanting it to be liked and loved. No guarantees there either, needless to say.

What would it be like to praise uncertainty, to praise fear, knowing they are the midwives of ideas? What would it be like to make up names for the steps in this process? Strange words to affirm strange states of being?