How the seraphs envied.

We, the unsuccessful writers, are often informed by other writers, also unsuccessful writers, that to become truly better we need to produce a larger volume of work.

We were the floating seraphs. We chose to be writers. Self-destruction is a job requirement. Pick up the pen. And the man who ends the page is a better writer than the noble-winged angel who begins it.

Before the sun emerges from the cover of the clouds begin writing. Write through the silent hours of the pre-morning with a cup of coffee, if you can afford it, or a cup of tea if you prefer that. Write around the toughest portions of your story. Revolve. Outflank the enemy. We lose precious minutes. But most battles are incidental. Only the wars leave an indelible mark on memory. The lines you write slash the feathers off your wings. When the morning streams in, with the sunburst on the skyline, cut right to the center of your story, run into the heat of the battle with your teeth clenched and your fists tight. Tap. Tap. Tap. Type until the sun turns red. Good writing only comes after the self is stepped over. Self-destruction. And then self-repairment. When the night arrives with the cold breeze, it should find you still typing. Type in the absence of love. Type on the day of Sabbath. Write while you are walking. Begin writing in the summer and watch the monsoons pass year after year from your window minus brocaded curtains. Count the number of times the earth has passed the sun since you put pen to paper. So when you rise, you will be better than the rest.

I am of the opinion that this advice is only a half-truth, like most other half-truths that are sold to people on their path to destruction. If we write a lot, then we should also be unashamed of throwing a lot of what we write, long articles, short articles, philosophical aphorisms, bits of fiction, in the trash bin. You can’t publish all the dirt that washes off your skin. Especially since you haven’t washed for so long. Who decides what goes into the waste bin? You do. Everyone who decides to practice an art form, and this is a reliable rule in an unreliable world, is in awe of the world of art. When he starts writing he comes across the mismatch. He is outclassed, and fatally returning to earth on torn-up wings. He comes across his ineptitude. How the envious seraphs fall. The awe he felt is more than an emotion. It is an identifiable marker. All his favorites, the Nabokovs, the Tolstoys, the Dostoevskys, the Bolanos define how high up the marker is placed. This little writer that I have presented before you feels, like every one of you, that he is unworthy. The feeling of his unworthiness is the measure of his potential for art. Every sentence put on paper takes the writer from the pure joy of thought to the clutches of self-harm. Every writing project is a conflict between the feeling of unworthiness and the need for self-esteem. If the author engages in a little self-hypnosis and learns to trick himself, he can slowly bring the marker down. He can take the shortest route to self-esteem. This process of choosing self-preservation over better writing is too common to recount. We have all done it in the debilitating company of pen and paper. This is why only a few writers ever become legends.

So yes, type out a library of stories. But also be careful of the trickery of your own mind. We are so easily fooled, especially when it is something we want so desperately. Things like popularity. Things like things. Always remember the marker. That is our standard of awe. That is what we came here for.

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