I've been doing a lot of thinking about writing.
I've been feeling the creative energy of writing slowly welling up, and the question is, what do I write?
And maybe that isn't even a question; that is, maybe the impulse to write has an unknown but definite objective.
I keep getting caught between these two ideas about writing.
One is that writing is a tool that a person learns and then uses to their benefit. They are in control of their writing. They consciously create the thing they intend to create.
The other idea is that writing is a mysterious creative process that explains itself only along the way or will only go in a particular direction.
In this case, the writer is not in control.
It's probably both. Most things in life tend to be both/and.
In terms of myself, however, I am mostly the writer who is not in control of their writing. I can only use my writing as a tool to a certain extent- to write this blog, for example, or various personal letters.
Beyond that, and even in those things, my writing is largely a mystery to me.
This is frustrating. I keep thinking, if only...
If I were more self-disciplined...
If only I had a clear goal in mind...
If only I sat down and wrote out a plot summary...
If only I stopped whining and just started writing.
I keep thinking of sayings like, "Genius is only one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration."
I beat myself black and blue with those sayings. They are excellent for that sort of thing.
Last night, I lay awake for hours, thinking about everything I had ever written.
Do you know that they are all the same story? It's astonishing to me.
From the time I was fifteen years old, writing with smudged blue ink on papers torn out of a ring binder, I have been writing the same story.
Here is the story; I can tell it very simply.
There is a girl. She is powerless and unformed.
She is taken out of her known world.
She falls in love with a man who is powerful, self-aware, self-disciplined and ageless. He loves her first and for no reason.
She finds out who she is by two things: the internal conflict that comes as a result of extreme displacement-by contrast, and by the sense of belonging that comes as a result of instinctive, unconditional love- by acceptance.
End of story.
Any external conflict is largely meaningless, poorly thought out and badly timed. It always is, because it simply doesn't matter. It's the internal conflict and resolution that matters.
You recognize this story, I'm sure. It's a common story.
I've been writing about my longing for God. Within God are two things I want desperately-context and unconditional love.
What I can't understand is why I need the mechanism of the other world. Why does the girl need to be taken out of her known world in order to find God?
The other, more important question is, do I accept that this is the only story I have in me to write or do I, because I'm aware of what I doing, now consciously direct my writing toward some other story, a story I choose for myself?
This feels like an important question.
If that's the only story I can write, then what I must do is find the best way of writing it.
If it's not, then what other story do I want to write, and why?
That's what I've been thinking about, lately, when I haven't been thinking about other, more practical day to day things, like what to cook for dinner.
Thank goodness I don't angst over those things!
What should I cook for dinner, and why? What does frozen chicken mean to the human condition? If I bake it, what does that say about me?
I want to write like Madeleine L'Engle, like George MacDonald. I want my fantasy to be clothing over some much more beautiful body and to be as much woven into what is real as what is not.
Like, that's not too much to want. Maybe I should ask for world peace while I'm at it.
Lately, I keep sending up these wordless prayers, these little burbles of pure longing that come out of me like water out of a spring, to be able to write about it, whatever it is- I want to capture it.
I want to take the way that I have been known by God and translate this into fantasy, because those symbols are universal. And anyway, fantasy is my medium. I can't help it.
Or can I? And back we go to Question One.
I can see why writers, and artists in general, must have a healthy ego to be successful; one must believe in oneself, in order to believe that all this self absorbed introspection is of any value at all.
I keep thinking about what my writer friend said to me months ago- that I already knew how to write, what I would have to find was my message, the thing I wanted to say.
It's just so true, and so frustrating.