Writing a Book Is a Lot Like Falling in Love by Nancy Stolhman
Let’s welcome back Nancy Stolhman as she shares with us “Writing a Book Is a Lot Like Falling in Love.” Enjoy!
For me, there’s nothing comparable to writing a book. The journey across pages is a holy collaboration with the muse, an extended meditation inside the Great Creative Mystery.
If you’ve ever fallen in love—and I mean the kind where lightning strikes jagged across the sky, obliterating (in the best way) everything you thought you knew!—then you are familiar with that feeling of glorious surrender.
Writing a book is exactly the same.
To fall in love with your book is to fall in love with the Muse, to embark on a dazzling albeit maddening journey filled with many unknowns, possibility, risk, and many, many junctures where you just have to close your eyes and go for it.
But that’s not always easy!
When we’re swimming in so much possibility, especially at the beginning of a big creative project, it can be intimidating.
We put pen to paper without knowing exactly what will emerge.
- Can we pull this off?
- Do we even have a full story?
- Is this going to be a waste of time?
We don’t know what step to take next. And we want to know! Sometimes we even feel like we must know if we are to go on.
But, ironically, it’s in this murky creative clearing that your best ideas will arise.
There’s nothing pragmatic about inspiration.
In my workshops and retreats, I like to remind writers that true inspiration, like true love, is messy and unexpected. It takes over.
And the further you get into your own creative goo, the further away from the shoreline of the known…the more it happens.
That’s when you know you are on to something.
When the world starts to sparkle, when the edges of reality get fuzzy in that way that lets you know true inspiration is coming… you just have to let go and fall back into the open arms of art.
Staying alert in that vast, open space of mystery is a skill.
And like any relationship, your creative lover will keep you wonderfully off balance.
Lean into this eerie clearing in the woods, this space of ambiguity and potential.
Not-knowing is exactly where you should be right now.
In fact, don’t just embrace it but celebrate it.
To make real art, inspired art, is to take a seat inside the mystery.
We show up to our work each day because we honestly have no idea how it ends or what it will demand of us.
But we know it’s beautiful and rare, and speaking just to us.
What about you?
When the Muse (or Love!) descends, do you release control, or do you insist on having it your way?
My three best tips for navigating your creative relationship:
- Always remember your true position.
Not as inventor or genius or even “the writer” in control…but as a humble servant of the story, the midwife catching the creative baby and landing it safely to the page.
Sometimes we have to get out of our own way and just let what wants to be written…arrive.
- Fifteen minutes a day can save your relationship.
We don’t always have an hour, an afternoon, an open, glorious weekend. But fifteen minutes a day can keep the creative fires going.
Plus, when your creative brain knows you’ll never be away for more than 23 hours, it starts helping. You’ll begin to “see” your story everywhere.
- And most of all: Allow yourself to be surprised.
Breathe into the boundless potential of the creative project in front of you and be okay with the mystery.
Remember: a visit from love or the muse is a gift.
Every day we get to make art is a gift.
The story is not a wild horse to be broken. The story is two lovers riding bareback with a notebook and a pen in each hand.
To your greatest creative love manifesting on the page.
I can’t wait to read your book!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nancy Stohlman is the author of six books including After the Rapture (2023), Madam Velvet’s Cabaret of Oddities (2018), The Vixen Scream and Other Bible Stories (2014), The Monster Opera (2013), Searching for Suzi: a flash novel (2009), and Going Short: An Invitation to Flash Fiction (2020), winner of the 2021 Reader Views Gold Award and re-released in 2022 as an audiobook.
Her work has been anthologized widely, appearing in the Norton anthology New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction and The Best Small Fictions 2019, as well as adapted for both stage and screen. She teaches at the University of Colorado Boulder and holds workshops and retreats around the world. Find out more at http://www.nancystohlman.com
Buy After the Rapture from Mason Jar Press: https://masonjarpress.com/chapbooks-1/after-the-rapture
Buy from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/After-Rapture-Nancy-Stohlman/dp/195185313X/