#164: The Living Story

In a reflective mood this week. Packing up all your belongings and putting them in your childhood home will do that to you. I leave for Asia on Wednesday and tonight, after a quiet dinner, I re-read all the letters I’ve written to you since coming to Detroit.

One thing I’d wanted to do over time here was to present a number of different metaphors for writing. The more lenses the better, I’d thought. But reading over these letters, it seems that there was one metaphor that I kept coming back to, elaborating on, that I couldn’t quite shake.

It’s that a story, from the moment one starts writing it (and possibly even before that) is very much “a living thing with its own wants and needs, deserving of your kindness and respect.”

It’s a organism that breathes (#133) and that we breathe with. With a body that grows and matures (#141) the way a tree grows (#156). A body that, at times, that must be healed (#150). To write is to be in relationship with the living story (#126), and like any relationship, this one has its cycles of loss (#103, #157) and grief (#144), as well as its celebrations of intimacy (#128).

As I wrap up my second novel and embark on new adventures, what I wrote at the end of one of those letters rings true for me now, more than ever: “A writer’s relationship with a story can be as nourishing and life-bringing as those with the people in our lives. For as we get to know them, we get to know ourselves.”