I’m closer to the story than I have ever been. I’m seeing the characters more fully now, seeing more clearly their fears, needs, compulsions. I know a little more of their histories, but that by itself isn’t enough to explain what’s happening. I’ve suddenly started seeing their futures too, seeing them stretched across time, how the people around them have shaped them and how they will shape the people they meet.
So what is happening? Work that at first I thought was unrelated to the story. These past weeks I’ve been trying intensely to make more sense of my own character, trying to understand the locked-away parts of me that drive my own fears, needs, compulsions. Last week I wrote that as we get to know the alive story, we get to know ourselves. What I’m realizing this week is it works more the other way around too, that as we get to know ourselves, the story lets us in.
I was introduced recently to the idea that the milestones in a romantic relationship should be celebrations of intimacy, rather than attempts to fill some inner void. That taking the next step with a person is less an act of motion than an act of stillness, of stopping to acknowledge the distance already traveled.
A healthy relationship with a story works in much the same way. We help each other along without asking them to complete us. We walk side by side, and every new draft is a celebration of how far we’ve come.