I believe there is something we writers are collectively seeking; we are all attempting to convey an experience, a true moment, to tell a story that somehow reveals more than what we thought we knew. We are seeking to write something that after having written it, we can ask without guile, “Where did that come from?”
I wrestled for a little over a decade with trying to do it my way. I couldn’t. It was only after I had had what I call a “third act experience” that I began to glimpse the mystery. The mystery is that the story is being told through me, and that my technique or skill as a writer seems connected simply to my capacity for wonder, my willingness to be curious, to question everything, and to never settle for convention.
In our hero’s journey, the end of the second act is often the moment that our hero lets go of his idea of what he thinks he wants. This idea is surrendered because he sees its impossibility under his current circumstances. I think of this surrender as being like a coin with two sides. We surrender because we have no choice. We recognize the impossibility of ever getting what we want, and we let it go. We let go of the pain of our desire, which does not mean that we give up our wanting. Instead, our hero reframes his want. He gives it a different meaning, and in doing so, it becomes possible for our hero to get what he wants, if what he wants belongs in his life.
The creative act seems to demand of us in some way to be just a tiny bit more humble than we were yesterday. (Humility has nothing to do with feeling small or humiliated). Humility is about being restored to reality, and the reality (as I see it) is that we are all simply channels for the divine. The divine is not a specific voice, it is the power of the sun as it passes through us, lighting us from within. When we approach story in this way, we maintain an objective distance and are able to explore with great specificity the reality of our fictive-world, and our work becomes a gift, a roadmap for whomever wishes to make use of it.