Last Friday, H.M. (Heather) Bouwman posted a wonderful piece here titled “Writing (in the) Happy Middles.” In it she discussed the “guiding myths of our lives,” and how a writer friend had identified Sisyphus as the hero whose story best conformed to her publishing career as she’d experienced it so far.
Heather responded that, by learning to “love the rock,” i.e., embracing and enjoying the process not the result, the nonstop effort to once again push the boulder up the hill could come to feel not just worthwhile but noble, even joyous, instead of odious or depressing or futile.
As it turned out, this post came a day after I’d had a chance to talk with fellow Unboxer Don Maass at Thrillerfest. He’s working on a novel, and he spoke about some of the scenes he’d found particularly challenging to write.
Specifically, he talked about how, in the character’s search for identity—and in our own as well—there come moments not of self-evaluation or reflection but utter, silent dread—as though peering over a cliff, or into the abyss. Moments when we don’t know what to do, but must do something. And do it sooner than we’d like.
As it turns out, these two notions—staring into the abyss and rolling that rock up the hill—are not entirely distinct.