“Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. … Write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”
The MacDowell Colony just regretted to inform me that they are not able to offer me a writing residency. The regret infused in their boilerplate mass e-mailing was deep, I’m sure.
Now, I spend a good bit of time applying for residencies and submitting stories to publications in the hopes that they’ll be published. And like many writers, I experience a great deal of rejection.
What’s happening here? Do I think I’m a good writer even though I’m not? Why did MacDowell turn me down? Why aren’t my short stories grabbing the publications’ editors by the heart, head, or throat?
Cycle through these thoughts enough, and it will stop a writer in her tracks. Sometimes I feel I’ve run out of things to say. The wires in my new, different, better meter are fried. I’m stalled, stonewalled, stuck.
And the next morning comes and I ache to write.
Hemingway often had trouble writing. Here’s what he’d do. He would “stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, ‘Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.’ So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say.”
I am writing sentences that are true. I am trying. Perhaps most importantly, I keep on keeping on.
At the start of each new day, that’s probably the most a determined writer can do.