I had a wonderful conversation Wednesday with the writer and spiritual teacher Neale Donald Walsch (you can listen to the entire podcast here), a number of times during which we raised the question, “Why are we here?” It is a question I have been asking off and on for much of my adult life, usually without much in the way of a satisfying answer. That question, however, reminds me of stories I am trying to write. Every story has its own energetic integrity that can only be fully understood while hot in the middle of telling it. Only then do I know for sure what belongs and what does not, from scenes, to characters, to individual words. The further I move from this story, however, the less sense it make to me, and it begins to feel like a meaningless collection of events strung together because I had nothing better to do.

When I view my stories from this distance, I find myself asking, Why bother? These stories will change nothing. They will disappear into the air like a burst soap bubble. Why did I care so much about every word? Why was I so satisfied and triumphant after a good day’s work? The stories are a sneeze in a typhoon. What a great hoax I’m playing on myself.

It’s almost enough to keep me from returning to the desk. But I find myself back the next day just same, grumpy but willing, and I slowly find the current of the story again, and then I’m in it. There is nothing better than being in it, whether it is a story I am telling, or a conversation, or a quiet walk. To be in it is to forget questions that never needed to be asked, and to ask instead as I head downstream, “What next? What next? What next?”


Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion.

"A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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