The Impossible Book

Someone once asked me what I would do if I knew I would not fail. I responded, without a shade of hesitation, that I would write a book.

Have I? Nope. Do I want to? Most definitely. Will I? I don’t know. What if I fail?

For years, the book I have had my heart set on writing has existed only in my imagination. Unattainable and utterly perfect, it has been safe from any bumbling and imperfect attempts to reproduce it in a tangible form. Because, of course, it cannot be reproduced. It is perfect, unformed, untainted by my inexperienced hand.

They say you only know how to write your book after you have written it. I cannot begin if I do not know how, because I would ruin it. My unwritten treasure, therefore, cannot be attempted.

My imaginary book is perfect. But no-one can read my perfect book-child, locked away inside my head. I cannot hand it to someone, to wow them into speechlessness as it surely would. I cannot read it and feel proud, because I would have to write it first, and I do not feel worthy.

But … perhaps I can write its lesser cousin. The book-child who will start as an inconceivably terrible first draft, never to be seen by human eyes except my own. Then, book-child may become a second, slightly less terrible draft, and then a third, a sixteenth, a forty-second, and so on. Book-child may be seen by many eyes, if I have courage enough to pass her around. She may yet be raw and vulnerable, yet without her skin, when I first hand her over. Book-child will wear the kind words of guidance, and I will allow her to grow and evolve beyond what I thought she could be. At some point, she will have to be pushed out into the world: whole, or nearly so, and most definitely as imperfect as her creator.

While she may be a shadow of the precious vision in my head, she will be real. Flawed, mistyped, worked over far too many times. And I will be a thousand times more proud of her than of the immaculate and divine image that I carry around in my head.

Am I going to write a book? Yes. Am I going to fail? Yes. A hundred times. Maybe more. And it is exactly that which will make me all the more proud in the end, when I finally get it right.

      Sam Stevens
      Editing Intern

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