All I can tell you for certain is that my entire life has been shaped by an early decision to reject the cult of artistic martyrdom, and instead to place my trust in the crazy notion that my work loves me as much as I love it—that it wants to play with me as much as I want to play with it—and that this source of love and play is boundless.
I have chosen to believe that a desire to be creative was encoded into my DNA for reasons I will never know, and that creativity will not go away from me unless I forcibly kick it away, or poison it dead. Every molecule of my being has always pointed me toward this line of work—toward language, storytelling, research, narrative. If destiny didn’t want me to be a writer, I figure, then it shouldn’t have made me one. But it did make me one, and I’ve decided to meet that destiny with as much good cheer and as little drama as I can—because how I choose to handle myself as a writer is entirely my own choice. I can make my creativity into a killing field, or I can make it into a really interesting cabinet of curiosities.
I can even make it into an act of prayer.
My ultimate choice, then, is to always approach my work from a place of stubborn gladness.
I worked for years with stubborn gladness before I was published. I worked with stubborn gladness when I was still an unknown new writer, whose first book sold just a handful of copies—mostly to members of my own family. I worked with stubborn gladness when I was riding high on a giant best seller. I worked with stubborn gladness when I was not riding high on a giant best seller anymore, and when my subsequent books did not sell millions of copies. I worked with stubborn gladness when critics praised me, and I worked with stubborn gladness when critics made fun of me. I’ve held to my stubborn gladness when my work is going badly, and also when it’s going well.
I don’t ever choose to believe that I’ve been completely abandoned in the creative wilderness, or that there’s reason for me to panic about my writing. I choose to trust that inspiration is always nearby, the whole time I’m working, trying its damnedest to impart assistance. It’s just that inspiration comes from another world, you see, and it speaks a language entirely unlike my own, so sometimes we have trouble understanding each other. But inspiration is still sitting there right beside me, and it is trying. Inspiration is trying to send me messages in every form it can—through dreams, through portents, through clues, through coincidences, through déjà vu, through kismet, through surprising waves of attraction and reaction, through the chills that run up my arms, through the hair that stands up on the back of my neck, through the pleasure of something new and surprising, through stubborn ideas that keep me awake all night long . . . whatever works.
Inspiration is always trying to work with me.
So I sit there and I work, too.
That’s the deal.
I trust it; it trusts me.