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(Yes, I’m listening to George Michael croon “I can’t make you love me… if you wooooon’t” on repeat, thanks.)

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Of course the definitive “Hallelujah” is k.d. lang’s. And I think both Prince and Sinead O’Connor absolutely sent “Nothing Compares 2 U.”

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There are some songs I like covers of better than the original, like Old School Freight Train’s cover of “Heart of Glass.”

Then there are the songs I like covers AND the original of, like George Michael doing Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me.”

Come for the elf cannibalism and opera liveblogging, stay for the long philosophical threads about writing and the D&D nights…

And that is my philosophy for the night, my beloveds. To create, to take that paradox by the throat and allow it to consume you, is to become powerful.

You are more than you ever dare to dream, especially when you *make*.

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Even if every copy of your works vanish into the fire, the impression they made continues to reverberate.

I can’t tell you anything other than, “I know this to be true.”

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And when—not if, for we are finite creatures—you’re struck down you will become more powerful than you ever imagined.

Because stories, once through the gate you represent, survive.

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But above all, remember this:

The stories have chosen you, and only you, out of all the infinity of the goddamn universe. You’re their only hope, Obi-Wan.

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Even the days that hurt, when pulling the words out one by one is agonizing, when you add a thousand words but subtract eight hundred and fifty, are part of that magic.

You know the pit of despair before you get to rescue Buttercup.

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It’s magic. It’s being in the helm-seat of creation. It’s Hephaestus at the forge, hammering with abandon—but every strike is carefully weighted by all the experience collected before.

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If this sounds like juggling on a unicycle, good. That’s absolutely intentional. This isn’t an easy job. Not everyone is fit for it.

But when you are, my gods, it’s so sweet. So painfully, achingly sweet.

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The balance between the process and the tools is the same as the paradox between godlike control *of* and the absolute submission *to* the story.

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The writing makes the writer. Do the writing, then you’re a writer.

At the same time, you must know how to use the tools. Words have meaning, grammar exists for a reason. Subverting the rules and breaking them is fine—when done for a reason.

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I get a lot of flack for saying, “If you’re a writer, you write.” I don’t care. You can even reverse it. “*If* you write, you’re a writer.”

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The balance is difficult. This is not an easy job. There’s a reason why only writing makes the writer.

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All the flow in the world won’t save you if your craft is shit, and your craft can be meticulous but the work turns lifeless if you try to strangle it with your own wants and needs.

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It’s very similar to the maxim “you have to know the rules before you can break them effectively.”

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I often talk about the paradox of writing—precise control over your craft, absolute submission to the story. I’m pretty sure every creative endeavor hosts a similar paradox.

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You have to trust that a certain story, unfinished or not, chose you for a reason. The reason doesn’t matter; doing the work does.

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All day my fingers have been misspelling words when I know the sentence is wrong and they need to be rearranged.

Writing is constantly finding out that the subconscious—or your own damn fingertips—know better than your conscious self.

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