The Author of Your Life
Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, poetry or prose, if you forget why you’re writing it will feel as if you’ve forgotten how to write. It is true for me every time I sit down to write. Technically I write to share perspectives and tell stories, but that is not really why I write. These are just excuses to do what it is I really want to do. For instance, I’m currently writing a book about how we are all storytellers and we are all the authors of our own lives. You may recognize the phrase “authors of our own lives” from Author’s Home Page. There it is, right at the top. I mention this because the idea that we are all the authors of our own lives has been kicking around in my head since before I started Author. As such, I’ve been thinking about it, and talking about it, and, since starting this column, writing about it for many years. It is not like other books that begin as a seed of an idea. This is a flower already growing.
It is tempting, then, to believe that all I need to do is describe the flower. Specifically, there are stories in the book that I often tell when I teach or lecture. Having already told them and told them, writing them should be easy. In fact it wouldn’t really be writing, it would be transcribing. The problem is, I don’t want to transcribe; I want to write. I want to ask for an original thought, receive it, and translate it. That’s where the actual pleasure is. Not in the outcome, not in the act of putting words on the page, but the asking, the receiving, and the translating.
So no matter how many times I might have told a story, I remind myself that this time I can tell it differently. I remind myself that if I seek it as if it were new it will feel new and I will experience that same pleasure of discovery and connection, that meeting of mind and intention, that is the destination of every day’s work.
This is the friendliest view of life I know. I will leave my desk and return to the same house, the same rooms and furniture, the same wife and child, and be offered the same choice as when I tell my stories. Do I want to transcribe this life or write it? Do I want to recognize this moment as different from any other and seek that same meeting of mind and intention within it, or see it as a story that is forever repeating itself? Am I the author of my life, or only the audience?
Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.