Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Writing as faith
I am not religious, but writing a novel has to be the first time I have seriously attempted to have faith. I don't mean faith in a god--unless that god is so vaguely defined as to be unusable as a concept anyway. And I don't want to say "faith in myself" because that phrase has become revolting. I want to rescue the word "faith" from the mental image it now gives me of a pale and pudgy person looking heavenward (or navelward) with dewy eyes. It's almost too late. But faith, I have heard some serious religious people say, is rigorous. It means moving forward even when you have no idea where your next step will land. Maybe in a hole, a pile of shit, grass which is lovely but you're allergic to it, the beach, etc. You get up and keep going. You promise yourself you will fix the mistakes, you can go back and fix them, not now goddamn it because you have to keep moving instead of obsessively tweaking something that isn't going to matter by the end anyway--you will fix them, and besides the further ahead you go, the more the past mistakes will sort themselves out. My whole personality is based on obsession with mistakes. I can't be that way and write novels.