What sets you on fire? / by Christina Rosalie

How do you write? How do you sit down and break open the cracked clay that paints your heart like a mask? How do you say the things you need to say, or want to, all the while believing in a few unsure things (the threads of a story stringing out like a spider’s fragile gossamer?)

It has dawned on me that I have no idea how to write really. Some days I feel like words are pelting me. Other days everything comes out so boring and uninspired. Most of the time I have no idea what to expect when I sit down at the keyboard. My mind plays chicken with me. The two of us wobble about mostly, looking stupid.

I think my problem is that I can imagine big. I can imagine BIGGER than big. I get glimpses of the whole damn story, from every perspective, the way it all should be. Then I have to write it, and that totally sucks. You know what I mean? Then the sentences tangle. Do any of you write?

What do you believe in? Especially with fiction? What makes you believe you have something to say? Is it story, for story’s sake, or something else? I really need to know.

Part of the reason all of this has me off kilter tonight is that I’m going for a week long workshop with Pam Houston on the coast in ten days. I’m already feeling dry-mouthed and foolish. More than anything else I hate meeting people for the first time. After we’ve met, I’m okay, but I hate those first few moments of unknown: skating out on ice the color of a robin’s egg, wondering if it will hold. I hate parties for this reason; and talking on the phone. And of course, being a writing workshop and all, I’ll have to meet lots of people; and then read them my timorous attempts at fiction. Gasp. Why do I do this to myself?

I feel like I’m lingering in the doorway of an open jet plane: air rushing past it’s metal belly and below a wide topography of green and blue and a geometric jumble of urban shapes, and the outcome’s totally uncertain. You never really know.