January 6, 2011 Leave a comment
I’ve drafted and deleted five blog posts in recent weeks that were attempts to inspire the reader in some way. It was such a cool idea, and I got it, but couldn’t tell it. I’d read, edit, rewrite, start over and before hitting the publish button, change my mind. The next day there would be a blog post in my google reader of blogs I follow that presented the same point, in a better way.
Sure, my point of view on the same topic is a different presentation and has value. However, when the number of coincidences hit three in my life, it means I’m supposed to pay attention. Well, I really have been too busy to figure out anything. There’s been no time to contemplate my navel and that is one of the primary tools a writer needs to master.
I was at a writer meeting on Tuesday and reminded that our work does involve a lot of staring at the wall. There’s all kinds of things going on behind that blank gaze but since it can be eight months or more between first idea and a potential story drafted, it doesn’t look like work.
I want to do my work but the distractions are huge reality stories taking place in my life. Our eldest daughter is buying her first home (we’re helping), daughter 3 is getting married in six months, and more. Each time I step into a supporting role in the stories of my daughters lives, I get distracted with analyzing the layers of plot, theme, character arc, and growth in their life stories. They don’t mind, they know I am so fascinated by their adventures these stories will show up in my fiction – and they feel it’s a compliment.
I do this with writer friends too. I love reading their books and adore seeing the stellar craftsmanship and unique writing style, but I find their life stories even more fascinating. Sometimes I wonder if I should try writing biographies of novelists. Their life stories are why they are great storytellers but they prefer fiction as it mirrors life, in neat stages and word counts. Life is messy and seldom follows a three act structure.
While I’ve not had time to contemplate if there was an important message in the variety of coincidences that are dropping around me like rose petals from a week old bouquet, one point did stand out today. So here it is:
When an author is determined to inspire, and seeks to inspire, they are not telling a story. They are lecturing while smacking readers with a cast iron frying pan. This is not the way to win friends and influence people so we can all be happy I deleted those posts.
Yet I will share that I was recently inspired by a conversation about a good bowl of soup.