Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pulling the Thread

One of the most thrilling things I experience when I'm writing is when I think I know what is going to happen next and then I find a detail dangling or missing like a thread on a sweater. I pull it and everything changes.

This happened yesterday as I was working on a scene from my second novel. In a previous section I had described the main male character in a fairly nondescript way and decided I needed to paint a more accurate picture of his physicality and openness. As I started, I noticed the more I wrote about how he looked, the stronger sense I got that he was not doing what he was supposed to be doing -- his back story was all wrong.

I've learned not to fight this when it happens. When a character goes left when you meant for them to go right you do NOT steer them in your direction, you go with it. There's a payoff, you just don't know what it is. In other words, you pull the thread hoping to make the fabric smooth again while also being willing to let it all unravel.

After about an hour of reworking his physical description, his name changed, his back story deepened and what was once a short scene, became a pivotal moment. That pesky little thread turned out to be an invitation to go deeper.

It strikes me that life is like this too. If we are the hero of our own story, then we are the main character and the author all at once. While the author side of our self wants us to go left, the hero ventures right.

The road less taken, perhaps? No stone unturned? Who knows why we do it, only that we are pulling the thread of our own story, looking for something deeper, richer and most of all unexpected. Just like in writing ,we have to have faith that it will enrich the fabric of our life even if we can't see that yet. We have to be willing to take the risk.

In the end, as the authors of our own story we get to choose if we are on a heroes journey or a fools errand.

If you're like me, you're stilling pulling at that thread.

3 comments:

Allegra Posts for Rose said...

Beautifully written!

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