Born This Way
This month’s issue features my conversation with first-time novelist Kristina McMorris. Kristina is unusual in several ways. First, most writers know they want to be writers from very early on. Not all, mind you—Wally Lamb did not begin writing until his early thirties—but usually writers start dabbling around age nine. Many of you probably did as well. Not Kristina. She did not have any inkling she wanted to write fiction until she was well into her twenties. What is most strange, however, was that not only wasn’t Kristina writing creatively – though she was doing plenty of, let’s say, quasi-creative writing for her job in marketing – but she wasn’t even reading. Now this, I have to say, after all the interviews I’ve conducted, is a first. Her learning curve, as she describes in the interview, was great.
Yet not so great as to keep her from writing her novel – Letters From Home – and eventually seeing it published. Even though I fit the typical writer mold – always interested in stories, read a lot as a kid, wanted to be a writer since I was nine – I love stories like Kristina’s. While it’s wonderful to think we’re born to do something, that we are shot from the womb like arrows headed inexorably toward one bright light of a goal, it is easy to romanticize this perspective because it seems to unburden us from the endless obligation of choice.
The fact is, no matter how strongly pulled toward one activity you are, you could still choose not to do it. You will suffer because of this choice, you will have bad marriages, you will get cancer, you will complain constantly to your friends how meaningless life is, and yet you will do so by choice. Which is why I find Kristina so inspiring. She reminds me again that life decides nothing for us; that we are neither born to fail nor to succeed – we are only born to choose.
If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group conferencing.