“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”
– Anne Frank
I have a confession to make, dear readers. I haven’t written on any of my novels in over a month.
Sure, I’ve written the occasional flash fiction, and the necessary content for my newsletter. But as far as sitting down with the express purpose to write on any of my novels or serial fiction, it hasn’t happened in a long time.
It’s not that I don’t want to, nor that I don’t think about it. I do. Constantly. And yet there’s a block like a stone wall in front of me that feels impossible to scale.
There are many, many reasons for this. Being in a global pandemic on a scale we’ve not seen in my lifetime for one. Living through history in a nation full of political unrest is another.
But these are circumstances beyond my control, things that I have no way to effect. Rather than focus on unattainable solutions to these worldly problems, what I can do is focus on the problems I contribute to my being paralyzed.
I have too many candles to burn. That is to say, I have too many ideas, and the indecision of which to light is causing me to work on none.
It seems like a good problem to have—better too many ideas than none, right?—but there’s an irony because I have the freedom to choose which projects I work on, it puts the onus on me to make what I see as an important decision with limited input. It becomes a festering pressure to make the right decision, because in this global landscape the looming of my own mortality is front and center. Why waste what little time I have left on something that won’t bear fruit? This is where the things I cannot control and the things I can collide.
So what advice do I have for my dear readers to help myself and you make it through this paralysis?
The truth is I don’t have a concrete solution, only a metaphor.
What are candles meant to do but provide light? We’re in dark times, 2020 being one of the most challenging years I’ve experienced, and I’m not alone in that perception. What we need more than anything is some light.
Pick any candle, any story. Pick it at random, flip a coin if you have to. The important thing is to have a candle to shine through the night, not for any other purpose but the light it gives to you. The right one is the one in front of you. Let it keep you up late into the night writing by the candlelight to ward off the demons that would haunt your sleep. Don’t worry about what the morning brings, because there may not even be a morning. Enjoy the warmth of it’s glow for what it is, not what it can become.
By enjoying the journey we go beyond what could be and cherish what is, even during times when the world wants nothing more but to swallow us whole.
Be well my dear readers. And when the night grows cold, light a candle.