"Courage is moving beyond our fears to a place of engagement. If we dare to write the book that threatens to kill us, something holds us together beyond our personal terror. Fear is replaced by a purpose beyond ourselves. I trust the truth of my questions that allow me to write in the direction of all I do not know. It's the unlearned moment. It's trusting the unknown territory of the heart that has a wisdom all its own, shedding our conditioning in favor of the mysterious. I trust my instincts.
Listening honors the mysteries among us. We can respond openly, rather than simply imposing ourselves on the situation at hand. It certainly makes life more interesting if we embrace the questions rather than simply harboring answers. Listening, by its very nature, creates a space of transformation."
--Terry Tempest Williams, from an interview in Image (#58)
I am at the point in editing my manuscript where I MUST listen, or I'll get it wrong. It's instinct now, all instinct. In the above interview, Williams goes on to discuss how she organized her newest book, Finding Beauty in a Broken World, that she tore down conventional chapters and section breaks in order to create a mosaic effect, in order to mimic how we perceive and participate in the world--as broken fragments--and to highlight or impose the play of metaphor. Williams is keen on the power of story and metaphor to create spiritual, cultural, and social change, and this is something I am strongly drawn to. It's something we are losing in mass media, of course, but also at home, at the dinner table, in the garden, alone on the reading chair. But it's there. I might consider (de)organizing my book like this--if I have the right instincts.
I feel that in working on my book I confront chaos at every turn, and a sense of fear that comes from that. It is hard to hold so much in my head, to have faith in what I'm saying and how I'm saying it. I think about all the books that never get read and all the words that never get said, and somewhere inbetween is a great anguish and joy--the line between them is very thin.
To find coherence in 95,000 words is terrifying, just as I imagine classifying all the fauna in the world is, or preserving the vanishing language of a native people, or mapping the galaxy. Chaos is everywhere and consuming and frightening--it's beautiful, too, just as order can be. Language is both chaos and order, and therein is a powerful metaphor.