A Little Faith
I was not born into a religious family, but I have certainly come to see writing as an act of faith. We have all had that experience where scenes seem to write themselves, where characters are talking to one another so quickly it is as if we are stenographers at a board meeting. These moments, happy as they are, require nothing of us. We have found the stream of the story and we need only let go and follow it as quickly as we can. But we cannot always be in the flow of our story, and the problem with stories, as with anything we love, is they make no sense. There is nothing at all logical about a story; there is no mathematical formula for why a story should work or shouldn’t work, just as there is no mathematical formula for why you love you husband, or Bon Jovi, or salmon. My wife once told a friend she didn’t like salmon. My friend, a pretty scientific guy, looked at her, absolutely dumfounded, and said, “But everybody likes salmon.” It was as if she had told him that two plus two equals six.
There is never a reason to like anything other than that you like it and the only real formula, the only real logic for your stories, is that you want to tell them and you believe once this story is told someone will want to read it. So when you are outside of your story, when you are not feeling the current of creative energy that you turn into a story, that story makes no sense; there is no logical reason you should tell it over any other story. And because all stories are only felt knowledge, not intellectual knowledge, you have nothing but faith that once you return to that current of story you will remember once again why it is you know you must tell it. Once you’re in the story, of course, once you are following it along, it is perfectly clear why you are telling it, because you are feeling it, and there is no explanation needed beyond that.
In this way, then, writing is an act faith, believing in something you do not know. You only truly know your stories when you are feeling them. Sometimes you carry that happiness of the story around with you, like the memory of making love or having been to a great movie, but it is only part of the happiness, only a memory. You will know it fully once you are in the story, and the only way back to it is to have faith that it is there.
If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group conferencing.