The Journey


Perhaps you have heard that it’s the journey, not the destination. Perhaps you have heard this so often that when you hear it now it sounds hollow and a little depressing. Its freshness has been worn out from overuse and so it no longer feels alive, and so it no longer feels true, and if it doesn’t feel true then maybe it isn’t true and that would mean that maybe it’s not the journey at all but is actually the destination. How depressing.

How depressing if it doesn’t matter what you learned and experienced when you wrote a story, it only matters if that story is published. And how depressing if it doesn’t matter that you enjoyed the experience of finding a publisher you love and who loved your work, it only matters if that book sold enough to earn back your advance and then some. Or that it got onto the bestseller list. Or that it won an important award. Destinations can keep changing.

It’s silly for writers to get distracted by destinations anyway: we’re in the journey business. My eyes must stay on the road, and that road is my story, which I travel by finding the next word, and the next word, and the next word. I can’t write and be thinking about the end of the story, the end of the story, the end of the story. If I just think about the end of the story, I won’t know where to go next, and so I’ll never reach that destination, and so there will be no story.

And readers read our stories for the journey. They don’t want to just get to the end. They want to go on a compelling, absorbing journey with us, one where they are always wondering, “What happens next? What happens next? What happens next?” Those are the journeys we wish would never end.

But end they must. Journeys that have no destination at all become fatiguing and circular. At some point I must close the book and rest in what I have gained from the journey before I begin another. I know nothing has actually ended, that the river of life in which I’m traveling just keeps flowing and flowing whether I’m at the beginning or end, but I can’t let that reality distract me from the pleasure of storytelling. Those beginnings, middles, and ends that I invent help me see anew what had begun to seem stale and false, help me remember why I’m here and where I’m going.

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

William KenowerComment