The book you want to write
by Jon Rappoport
December 18, 2015
(To read about Jon’s mega-collection, Power Outside The Matrix, click here.)
I’ve had several clients who are writers. They decided they had a book in them.
This is a momentous event. I don’t mean realizing there is a book. I mean tapping the keys for the first few sentences of chapter one. That’s when you know it’s happening. You’re doing it. You’re pushing the boat out from the shore.
As your imagination swings into gear, you become aware of the space that sits out there, the space you’re going to fill and shape.
The world has existed for a long time, but the book is a unique event. It’s the world plus one.
Of course, some people will never finish their book. They’ll bog down in details and plans and structure. They’ll convince themselves there is one prescribed way to do the job, and they’ll decide they just can’t produce that pattern.
Through direct instruction or the “shared wisdom” of writing teachers, they’ve bought a straitjacket. It fits, but it doesn’t fit the writer in them. That’s the sad joke. The straitjacket is for a person who isn’t a writer.
I’ve seen this over and over again. Clients tell me everything they’ve learned about writing, and I wonder how they can still possess a drop of inspiration. Saddled with their ideas, I’d give up and go to work sweeping floors.
Of course, I’m not talking about spelling, grammar, or syntax. Kids are supposed to master those basics in junior high and high school. And if they read, they already know something about great writing.
I’m talking about what YOU would do if you were going to write YOUR book. How you would launch yourself.
It’s often said the best advice for a student is, “Write about what you know.” Ah yes. The pearl. Well, that certainly works if a person, in fact, wants to write about what he knows. But many other people really want to write about what they don’t know—or more precisely, what they haven’t imagined yet.
And even if you want to write about your life and past, you’re going to find out imagination is a major part of the process, because words and sentences and paragraphs don’t fit reality like a glove. Good writers can make you believe their words are exact replications of events, but that’s an illusion. That’s their brand of magic.
Even the old hard-boiled curmudgeon, Hemingway, was inventing something that looked like realism. He was hammering out sentences that conspired to produce that flat laconic effect. He had his own magic wand.
How do you convince readers they’re bumping up against actual events? Do you, as the writer, look to the events for help?
Maybe. But WHAT you’ve experienced doesn’t teach you how to dance as well as HOW you’ve experienced it.
And books will help, too. Not manuals. Novels.
The more you read, the more you discover how it can be done.
The art of it.
The ways imagination can operate.
And hopefully, you’ll come to understand that your imagination can move in unique currents.
Then you’ll have the engine and the fuel to start and finish a book.
You’ll have the persistence to work out the details.
It’s not a walk in the park; if that’s what you want, just take a walk in a park. Writing a book is the kind of commitment that expands your understanding of what a commitment is. It changes your life.
Fortunately, I had only one writing teacher during my 16 years as a student. He was a well-known poet and translator. We had several confrontations. One of them was particularly nasty. We ended up cursing at each other. Loudly. However, one afternoon in class, while reviewing an assignment, he took out a poem of mine and read a few words and said, in his dry fashion, “That’s a line of poetry.” I didn’t take a great deal of pleasure from his admission, mainly because I already knew it was a good line. He was a fairly decent teacher; he didn’t hand out much advice. He just let us work. I don’t recall him ever saying, “Write what you know.”
Good lines of writing stimulate adrenaline in the reader. They bypass the usual filters of perception. They awaken the reader to some X quality he didn’t know he had.
At that moment, he isn’t holding a book in his hands. He’s in an unforeseen space that blots out all other spaces.
Most beginning writers want to communicate big ideas. They conceive of these ideas as generalities. Then they spend page after page piling up more generalities like gooey layers of an ungainly cake. Looking at it sitting on the dinner table, no one is happy. Put off? Yes. Repelled? Yes.
The solution to this problem isn’t merely substituting details, because details can also make an unfriendly tower.
A book isn’t a mechanical proposition. It’s a work of imagination. And that means: no formula.
Ah. Who wants to tackle that?
The answer is: anyone who wants to be a writer.
And on the day he sees how to do it, he understands he’s in the most abundant territory in any universe, and he feels alive in a way he’s never felt before.
He isn’t chipping away at a canyon wall with a hammer and chisel, to find a sentence that has light in it. He’s swimming in the great ocean, where rhythm and velocity are endless metaphysical fountains.
When I was 11 years old, in 1949, I read a children’s book that took me away. It said, under the surface, “Do you want to be this?” Six years later, when I realized I would never pitch for the New York Yankees, I said, “Yes.” Recently, I went back and read that book. I had to laugh, because I saw how much I had supplied to the author, how much I’d given him. I had been writing most of his work in my own mind. But that was all right. He brought me the first wave.
Do you want to write a book?
Don’t make the details the big worry. Don’t build a machine out of a thousand facts. You’ll find ways of folding in details in the caverns of your chapters. You will. And yes, you have to, but it doesn’t have to be a burden.
You don’t really have a book in you. You have the capacity to invent a book.
If the prospect of inventing one doesn’t move you, either go on to another line of work or figure out how to find your imagination. You left it somewhere.
Which is like forgetting you’re going to get married. When you walk down the aisle, you’re still catching your breath from the trip you just made to to buy the bunting and the trimming and the serving dish and the big pickles and the carving knife and the ribbon for the box and the shoe brush and the balloons. Finally, you were just picking things off shelves at random. You can’t remember why you decided the marriage was a good idea. Hopefully, you’ll wake up when you say I DO.
One of my jobs is imagination specialist. What a horrible title. It’s a joke because it’s a contradiction. Actually, I play the role of Hermes. I catch people in mid-stride going to a place they’ve somehow lost interest in, and I put things in their way. Strange things. Absurd things. They stop. Then I say, go here, go there, make up this, pretend that, let’s say the world is completely different, and you’re an ant clinging to the edge of a frozen cliff, and here comes a phantom carrying the sun in his hand and he’s going to melt the tundra and you have to give a speech that will save your life. What are you going to say? GO.
Because if a person recovers his imagination, he can write a book. He can do lots of things. He can do anything.
Through a process no one will ever be able to fathom, he can use any event from his past, he can enact fragments of his past that never existed, he can work his way up the side of a wave while standing on the top, he can do all this and more. He can lug up and down the wave suitcases of details and sprinkle them where he wants to.
And he’ll write a book you’ll want to read.
And you can write such a book, too.
Not overnight, but you can do it, if you really want to, if it’s important enough.
The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free NoMoreFakeNews emails here or his free OutsideTheRealityMachine emails here.