Stories about human beings are never about what happens to those human beings but what it feels like when something happens to those human beings. The fact that your hero has a gun in his face means less to other human beings than what it feels like to have a gun in his face. If he were happy to have a gun in his face, for instance, that would be very different than if he were terrified to have that gun in his face. In this way, stories are not so much a series of events but a movement of feeling.
I have found this to be so in my life as well. I have been guided through my life by feeling, and rarely by evidence or reason. In fact, I don’t really know how to be guided by reason or evidence. All I want is to feel good, and what felt good yesterday – or ten minutes ago – may not feel good at this moment. A life is like a story in this way also. You job as a writer is to write the scene that belongs in that moment in that story. You cannot use a scene from another story.
So too with your life. Your job, if you can even call it that, is to know what a given moment asks of you. Because a moment is too big to know intellectually, because life happens too fast for our turtle brains, the only way to know what is best for that moment and for you is to feel what is best – the very same as you feel what is best for a moment in a story.
The past is in fact over and cannot repeat itself precisely. But it has certainly taught me. It has taught me that if I feel what a moment requires and ignore that feeling, I suffer; if I surrender to that feeling, life becomes effortless. Why would I ever not surrender to that feeling? Because what if this time Life, that which is guiding me, is wrong? What if the final answer life always provides is not Yes? And in that very moment I create the void I most fear, open a hole into which I will inevitably fall, only to be caught once again by Life and its only answer.
Write Within Yourself: An Author’s Companion.
“A book to keep nearby whenever your writer’s spirit needs feeding.” Deb Caletti.