I sometimes find that the stories I want to tell are utterly inaccessible. The stories are there, I can feel them-- but at times it seems these stories are locked up somewhere deep inside. In my mind's eye, there's a closed door behind which are all the the things I want to say. But accessing these things is difficult, because (it's silly, but this is the image that pops into my head) there are several doorknobs on this door, and I don't know which one to turn. I could simply try each doorknob by turn, and get somewhere. But I have cold feet. I also fear that the story I might find on the other side of the door may be bigger than I can deal with. Maybe this is the original causal factor in my perceiving a locked door. I'm afraid to tell my stories.
It's not always like this. Sometimes I'll sit down with a germ of a story and it unfolds in my notebook with purpose and clarity. Sometimes characters are quickened from the ether, coming to life at the tip of my pen. At these times, I feel free, uninhibited. At these times, too, I think I come to writing differently. I come at it as I should, with little or no impulse to write well. I just want to write.
But the stories behind the door? Those are the stories I'm reserving for the Great American Novelist in me to tackle. It's true--I'm waiting, quavering, unwilling to approach them, because these stories are the ones that must be, so I think, written perfectly.
You may all call me on my bullshit, now.
The moral of the story can be summed up in a series of platitudes: "To err is human." "Live and let go." etc.
But I like what Bill Stout says most. He puts it in context and it's utterly simple:
"Whether or not you write well, write bravely."