I have a dream of one day writing fiction. There are stories bopping around in my head, many of them with great and captivating characters. In my reading experience, a great character can make up for a great number of writing flaws, but even the most creative and descriptive authors will fall flat for me if their characters aren’t captivating.
The problem, though, is that I still need a point to my stories. Just developing a character does not drive fiction. A good character is critical, but without a story, there is nothing to carry the character. And, while I have great characters and good story starters in my head, I seem to lack an overarching plot that will engage a reader through to the end.
So, I haven’t bothered to start writing that fiction.
In all honesty, it’s more comfortable in this spot of not writing. But, I also have to admit that two things are highly challenging this position of inactivity. The first one is my children. Often as they discuss the stories they are writing, they make comments like, “Guess what I discovered today? That character is a red-head! So many things about her make more sense now!” Or they’ll talk about something unexpected happening or someone doing something funny. They talk as if they’re reading stories, not writing them. As if they are watching the stories come into being, not creating them.
And my kids aren’t alone in this. I’ve seen similar comments from other authors—published authors—talking about their characters or stories surprising them with unexpected actions or events.
It baffles my mind, and yet I remember reading something about Michelangelo saying that his sculpture work was simply an act of releasing a masterpiece already there in the stone, just waiting to be exposed. It’s not a new concept for artists to feel as if they are revealing rather than creating. And maybe they are. Maybe God Himself has the designs, the stories, the beauty already there, just waiting to be exposed by those with the talent to do so.
Of course, that idea doesn’t help encourage me to write those stories because I fear that I will not have the talent to reveal anything. My husband and children are so much more creative than I am. So, I should leave it to them, right?
Except that I told you there were two challenges. And the second comes from within me.
You see, this post was not the one I originally sat down to write. I had a different thought that I wanted to write out. But, I felt like it needed an introduction. In the process of writing the introduction, a whole new thought filled my mind, and it turned into its own blog post. Then that, in turn, led to this thought. In order to not lose the first two thoughts, I made notes for this one, then went back and worked on the other two. At this point, I don’t even remember what those original two thoughts were or what blog posts they produced, as it’s taken me a while to come back and flesh out this thought (fear, perhaps?). But the point is that the extra ideas didn’t come from just thinking about the original topic. They came from acting on the thought.
I had a thought. I started writing it out. And more thoughts followed, one after another, seeming to come from nowhere.
I’m good at pondering. And pondering is important. It’s where ideas come from, and those ideas spur growth. But, pondering itself doesn’t actually produce growth. Acting on those ponderings is the only thing that will help me grow. Create. Reveal. Action is what really turns a thought into something real. Action is what turns that one thought into another and another until we are not creating, we’re discovering.
My wonderful husband pointed out to me recently that maybe I need to stop learning about writing and just start writing. And he’s right, as usual. The stories, the thoughts, the ideas are all in there somewhere. But they serve no purpose closed up inside my head. Only once I take a step and start writing will they start revealing themselves.
And you know something? Maybe if I think of myself as being God’s tool for revealing beauty rather than responsible for creating it, I just might be capable after all.