All In: Ideas & Writing

I try to take this quote of Annie Dillard’s deeply to heart as I write fiction:

“One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.”

If I have a great idea, and if it fits into the story I’m working on, I don’t hold back, don’t reserve it for another time.  Remember when I plotted out that giant multi-storyline monster (and then subsequently abandoned it)?  In my current WIP, I am using some of the ideas from this story, even though they “fit” better with this whole plotted-out beast.  Who is to say if those other projects will ever see the light of day?  Better to spend my currency now before I’m in a country where it’s no longer acceptable payment.

For me, it’s about faith.  Faith that if I use my best ideas now, new ideas will come later.  It’s about having a generous spirit, about rejecting any parsimonious parts of my writer-heart, knowing that that sort of frugality reflects fear.  I want to write out of faith instead of fear.  Always.

all in2


Image credit: original from, edited by Jackie Lea Sommers.