ASKING “WHY?” in writing

ASKING “WHY?” in writing

Don’t approach your history for its cautionary fruit . . . Tell your stories, and your story will be revealed . . . Don’t be afraid of appearing angry, small-minded, obtuse, mean, immoral, amoral, calculating, or anything else. Take no care for your dignity . . .”

– Mary Karr (author of Lit)

Our unconscious is perfectly designed for this process. It already knows the story. Our only job is to remain curious and inquire into the nature of things. As we do this, our story comes into focus. It takes time and patience. We are being asked to relax and trust while continuing to inquire. When we get scared, we inquire into the nature of our fear. When we get cocky, we inquire into the nature of that as well.

My ego, the personal, is what limits me. When I connect to the nature of the dilemma at the heart of my story I’m connected to the universal and specific images are revealed. Whether conscious or not, our desire to write is a desire to explore the nature of something through a particular event.

In essence, what we are doing is asking “why?” I tortured teachers my entire (and entirely brief) educational career with this question.

Watt, quit asking why!”

“But why?”

Because… that’s why!”

There is something primal about this question. Children ask it incessantly. It is about survival and evolution. Asking why is essential to get underneath the events (the plot) in our story. Underlying these events is a fundamental truth, as opposed to our idea of the way things are. It is not that our ideas are wrong it is just that they are not the whole story. It requires bravery to challenge our beliefs. Through story we seek revelation, where our perception widens and we are liberated from some idea that kept us tethered. For a long time the idea may have provided a sense of security, but somewhere within us lies the desire for a greater freedom.

That greater freedom seems to always involve love. At the core every story is about love, or at least love is the thing on the table. It is our truest nature and the ultimate catalyst in restoring order. We continue to fill endless volumes examining its countless manifestations. It is primal and essential to our evolution, and asking why is the gateway to an answer.

Let me know your thoughts.