I might want to have this perfect eden -- a utopia. It's how it began. And yet, I am not ready to live in that world and neither are other readers. We are still learning how to Be -- be present, and content, compassionate and wise.
Instead, the world I create is a microcosm of that which I am still working on within myself, the aspects that resonate with me and the situations that challenge or scare me or make me feel unable to cope in the world.
The protagonist is on her own journey -- some of what she experiences I have been through and have become perhaps a little wiser, and others I am still experiencing. And I'm sure many lessons await me just around the bend. And that is okay. Even novel writing is cathartic -- maybe more than journaling in some ways because I move the characters through all the scenarios unfamiliar to me as well as those known! And that's exciting and fun but also a challenge just as the real world would be. Except that in my written stories I have the time and space to pause, think about the different responses available and play them out a ways instead of reacting quickly in one direction with no way back. Perhaps if I can embrace this perspective more fully, I will be able more easily to let go of a scene or passage and try a different direction or response. I can always return to my original scene if I find that it remains the truest to character and plot and theme.
I continue growing into all the components of writing, learning not to fear changing a scene or adding something new. To recognize myself as the author of the story and not the reader. This is a shift that becomes more apparent the longer I continue writing. To realize that what emerges initially as the story can be changed. Repeatedly, if necessary. To realize that as the author I am not locked into one path for the story or even one footstep. All is open. I could potentially change one thing, everything, or nothing!
It's that simple and that complex because I feel this obligation of sorts to remain true to what came out originally. To love it as it is.
Where is that loyalty coming from? Fear? Stubbornness? A rigidity of form that resists change? Do I feel it is control or a lack of control to venture away from the birth of the idea and storyline? To add and remove? Or do I simply feel I can trust what emerges initially more than I can what my mind tells me to do later to change or disguise the original story? The past nearly two decades of my fifty years have been a huge learning curve to trust intuition rather than negate it; is that influencing my resistance to changing my 'baby' story into something that I 'think' is better or more appealing? How to wed the revisions to both imagination and intellect, to create a hand-fasting that binds intuition with craft yet leaves both free to give and receive?
Writing is a journey of Self, whether fiction or non, and I am enjoying the process, the opening, the melding of worlds and psyche, of lives unreal and real experiences. None of the people who populate my imaginary world are insignificant, they are all vital, and I feel myself opening further to that same realization in 'real' life, too, on deeper/higher levels. Everyone is key and all parts are vital. Setting is as important as character, for it becomes a character in its on right. Or at least it does in what I am writing and in how I live. No separation.
I feel everything that happens, not just in my mind but in my body, because I have to feel what they feel or this entire thing becomes just letters on a page with no heart or purpose and no rhythm. I hear their song, the melody of the story . . . sometimes only faintly in the background but there . . . and how well I write, how true I am to listening determines to some extent whether someone else reading it also hears the entire orchestra and not only the string section.
The first thing I read later in the day, after writing the above stream-of-consciousness piece, was:
"The idea running through these lectures is by now plain enough: that there are in the novel two forces: human beings and a bundle of various things not human beings, and that it is the novelist's business to adjust these two forces and conciliate their claims. That is plain enough, but does it run through the novel too? Perhaps our subject . . . has stolen away from us while we theorize, like a shadow from an ascending bird. The bird is all right--it climbs, it is consistent and eminent. The shadow is all right--it has flickered across roads and gardens. But the two things resemble one another less and less, they do not touch as they did when the bird rested its toes on the ground."
(E.M. Forster's "Aspects of the Novel" - emphasis mine)
This "ascending bird" is a good touchstone for me, something to return to when I become lost in a single aspect of writing, or become confused in contemplating the minutia of the journey. Whenever I feel myself flying further apart from the core of the story, I shall land and reconnect with the whole--the big picture.