Consistently Miraculous

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I interviewed the author Laurie Frankel the other day for Author’s July issue and ended up talking about the miraculousness that is the creative process. “Miraculous” was exactly the word we used, which I mention because being a couple writers we don’t like to choose our words frivolously. These moments with authors always stick in my mind because writers as a group are fairly skeptical and don’t tend to spend their days praying for miracles.

This is a natural consequence of the challenging business of being an author. It’s a career choice that often involves a fair amount of disappointment, and even when it doesn’t the authors who were signed by the first agent they contacted who then sold the first book they wrote are quick to acknowledge how “lucky” or “unusual” their story is. If you want to survive and stay sane in this business you must make peace with the occasionally unpleasant and wholly un-miraculous realities of reviews, and editors who change houses, and glutted marketplaces, and fluctuating sales.

And, of course, you must also make peace with that blank page, which is exactly where the miracles keep happening. By miracle, I mean something lovely that happens for you, or to you, or with you and for which you do not feel wholly responsible. Every writer has experienced that scene that “wrote itself,” the character that talked her way into your story against your will, or the perfect ending that seemed to be waiting for you while you struggled through the beginning and middle. In my experience, the more you write, the more you experience these “miracles.” Though you might not admit it to anyone but another writer, you have probably come to depend on them.

I’m reminded of The Fool archetype that sets off on his journey to find what he needs while shouldering a pack that already contains everything he will find on this quest. Everything I need to tell any story is available to me, it’s just that all the scenes and sentences and words are hidden from me by the mirage of the blank page. Yes, the stories seem to come from nowhere because we cannot touch or see their source, and yet they keep coming and coming and coming, as surely and miraculously as my heart keeps beating.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual coaching and group workshops.

William KenowerComment