Vision: A Resource f

 Lazette Gifford
Publisher & Editor
zette@cableone.net

 

The Sacrifice of Writing

By Jolene Dawe
2005,
Jolene Dawe

 

Odin hung on the World Tree to gain the runes.  It wasn't an easy sacrifice, as the story goes.  Depending on your source, he either hung by his neck or pierced himself to the trunk of the tree by his own spear.  Either way, he bled.  He suffered unrelenting hunger and thirst.  On the ninth day, he saw shapes within the Well at the foot of the Tree.  He reached down, struggling despite the pain, and picked those shapes up.  They were runes, mysteries of the North, filled with power and magic.  With the runes, one can manipulate wyrd. 

It's sort of like writing. 

Actually, it's a lot like writing.  In the Norse pantheon, Odin is a god of, among other things, inspiration and communication.  He (along with his two brothers) is responsible for giving humankind breath, intelligence, and consciousness.  His hunger for knowledge is insatiable, leading him all over the worlds, always seeking.

When he climbed that Tree, he didn't know what was going to happen.  He knew he'd be sacrificing himself, but he didn't know what, if anything, he would gain from it.  This is a feeling many of us have when we sit down with a blank page and start writing.  All we know is that there are words within us that must be let out.  Often we'll have some idea of what we want to do with these words; other times, it's just the need to write.  We sit and we type and we hope that something good will come from it.

We sacrifice time that could be spent on other projects and activities.  The sacrifice could be big or small -- a relationship, or just a few hours in evening.  The point is, we are willing to give these things up to write.  Like Odin on the Tree, we don't know if we are going to lose everything for nothing, or if we are going to give everything up only to gain back ten times more.  It's a decision we all have to face, in one form or another. 

You cannot write without putting the time into it, and when you have a day full of responsibilities already, carving out a chunk of time to write can be near impossible.  So we sacrifice reading that novel sitting on our to-be-read shelf, or we sacrifice a night out with friends, or we sacrifice that new movie we want to see.  The sacrifices are often ones we would rather not make -- I like going out with friends, personally, and I want to read more than I do now, not less -- but then, if they weren't, they wouldn't really be sacrifices.

Then I start a new project, like Odin picking up a new rune, and the mysteries within the story captivate me.  There is awkwardness and pain and excitement and a whole world of discoveries waiting to be made, and for a time, the awareness of what I'm sacrificing in order to write falls to the wayside.  I create.  I shape.  I control the wyrd of my creation.  I use inspiration to communicate with the world around me, and the world, in turn, feeds the inspiration.  Sometimes, the inspiration is an endless banquet, feeding me until I can eat no more.  At other times, I have to root around in a seeming desert to find the smallest bits of nourishment.  Either way, my awareness is focused on the creating, on the shaping.

 

It's after the project is finished that the awareness returns, and with it, the fear.  What if the sacrifice was too dear?  What if I risked all for nothing?  What if it never pays off?  For me, these fears are more chilling than the fear of a blank page.  For me, this is when the fear of failure sets in.

And, for me, this is when I look to Odin and the Tree.  I'm reminded that I am not the only person, not the first person, and surely not the last person, who has to give up in order to gain.  I'm not alone in my willingness to risk much to gain much.  There's no guarantee that I'll ever gain anything beyond the joy of writing, and that's okay.  It's not going to stop me from reaching.