Have you ever seen the movie “Seven”? If not, I shall give you a brief summary. A crazy serial killer decides to find, torture, and kill victims in relation to the seven deadly sins. Gruesome, to be certain, but a story well-crafted and brilliantly acted by Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Spacey. Some scenes from movies stick with you, and many from that movie do. This is not one I can recommend to a person with a weak stomach.
At the end of the movie, Kevin Spacey’s character (“John Doe,” said serial killer) gets to Brad Pitt, one of the investigating detectives, in a real bad way. That will be my subtle explanation. John Doe has a box delivered to the detective, out in the middle of a great big field. Morgan Freeman looks in the box first. It is not a big box. It is a good size box for perhaps a head of lettuce. Brad Pitt panics at the sight of the box, thinking of his wife. Certain things are implied about the box. Think of the head. Of lettuce. And the line Brad Pitt repeats over and over, in a tone that grows in urgency, panic, and volume: “What’s in the box? What’s in the box?! Whats in the BOX?!” If you’ve seen the movie, you can hear him now, can’t you? It turns the stomach, the sound of his voice.
I am discovering some things about myself lately, many I have shared here. Here’s another. I have always thought of my innate desire to write as a gift straight from God. Not so much I “have a gift” as in “I am a gifted writer,” but more along the lines of “I think it is a gift to have a mind that works around words the way mine does.” A gift to me. From God. Never really factored other people into that equation. Not in a selfish way, but in a “what do they care anyway” way.
But I have realized that writing “for myself” is like keeping a gift, beautifully wrapped and ribboned, unopened. Why the heck wouldn’t I open that thing up and see what’s inside? Send some writing out, and see what happens? Because when I imagine opening that box up, I am pretty sure I couldn’t handle what’s inside. That scene from Seven sits right in the front of my mind. What’s in the box?!
Success? Don’t know how I would handle it. Rejection? I know I could handle that, because it’s all I expect. There will not be a pile of acceptance letters, no. Rejections come with the job, am I right? So it must be success I am afraid of. Suddenly I would have to be a responsible human grown up person that people and publishers are relying on, and part of me just wants to be a kid forever.
I have long been weary at the notion of momentum in writing. Keeping it up, day after day, not just the writing, but the submitting, the organizing, the responsibility of it all. So, I leave my box unopened. How many layers of paper would I have to unwrap before I see what’s in the box? Who knows.
I thought today of the times some goofer (I would guess my dad, or my husband) wrapped a gift in layer upon layer of paper, or tape, or both, adding in a couple of boxes inside for extra measure. Has anyone ever done that to you? If so, you know that, though this is sometimes a frustrating endeavor, a smile and a laugh accompanies each ever-lovin’ layer.
So I am determined to start peeling back some layers.
I will try to refrain from crying out, “What’s in the BOX?!”