I’m writing a book. I feel like I’ve been working on it all my life – and I probably have in some ways. It is far from finished because I stopped writing it for a while.
I’ve been asked many times what it’s about and have had difficulty answering that question. The reason I think it’s been hard is because I haven’t been quite sure myself. I’ve subjected my book to the thoughts and criticisms of a few people and that’s changed what I wrote. It changed it so much that I lost the joy of writing it and stopped for a while. Those ideas and suggestions were really good, and I’m glad I requested them, but I allowed them to have too much influence and get me off track.
I’m ready to write again now because I’ve rediscovered my vision.
The book is a collection of stories. It isn’t a book that will tell anyone how to live, how to lead, or how to succeed. Who am I to tell people those things? It is a book of stories – the way I experienced things that happened in my life and how they impacted me.
I truly enjoy telling stories. I hope the inherent lessons in those stories will be understood by the reader. But it exhausts me to think about telling the story, then trying to explain the meaning of it and telling readers what they should think or do as a result of that story. If they can’t figure out what they think or can do as a result of the story, then I’ve probably failed as a story-teller…
It’s fun to me that sometimes on my blog comments other people do me the favor of explaining the lesson in my story to me. Or maybe they’re explaining it to others who read the comments on my blog? (I like to read the comments on other blogs, so I guess this is possible.) Either way, it’s rewarding in a way to get to read the revelation they had through my story. I try not to imagine that they don’t think I realize the moral of my own story. J
Madeleine L’Engle is one of my favorite writers of all time. I think I like her so much because she loves to instill ideas and concepts in the mind of the reader through stories. If you read A Wrinkle in Time, you will probably never have the idea that people can be governed through mere brain power alone. You will recognize that people are all different, they need different things, and compassion (heart) is essential in leading others. One of the characters in the book is a large, disembodied brain who rules with rigid laws about conforming to ridiculous rules. L’Engle doesn’t have to explain this concept to the reader. It’s understood.
This realization about my book just really hit me recently. I was reading L’Engle’s thoughts on writing well in a book called Madeleine L’Engle Herself in which she repeatedly writes things like – I don’t write my books; my books write me. She makes it sound like she has very little to do consciously with the writing of her books. It’s a practice of her sub-conscious. When she’s writing, something totally outside of herself happens and the words on the page are often far different from what she thought of before the pen touched the paper. As a writer, this makes sense to me. I have also experienced this phenomenon many times and have been amazed by it. If I have a problem to figure out, the surest way to do it is to put pen to paper and write until it’s solved. And it works. It’s like the pen allows me to tap into a place in my soul that my verbal communication skills can never reach. It’s admittedly weird, but it happens.
The point of explaining all that is to say that when I first started writing my book, it flowed naturally. As I wrote about my past, things came to light in my mind, fit together, and finally made a little sense. I trust that process now so much that I have no doubt the things I write are truth. But this ability to write truth suddenly stopped in regard to my book. Instead, I was trying to force myself to write out “lessons” after each story. Yuck. I’m done with that. Let the reader figure out the lesson – I’m on to a new story!