Fiction… that imaginary place of escape.
True. Sometimes. Not always.
I live an ordinary life. We juggle the norm…joys, fears, tears, and the expected struggle to figure out this living thing so that we may do it well. If you were a fly on my wall, and you managed to escape my nylon swatter, you’d probably wonder why I write what I write.
Sometimes, I do too.
I just past the 1/3 mark on the rough draft of my current project. Usually that’s where it gets hard. Sadly, I get bored. I go looking in my imagination for new people to meet, a new story to explore. You know those people who struggle to finish a project? I’m one of them. So, I have my peeps around me to push me forward.
This time, it’s a little different. I’m not bored. I’m scared.
As a teenager, I’d write to escape. I’d create my own little world where I was in control, people behaved the way I thought they should behave, and the storylines would work out to my advantage. In short, it was all about me. When I took up writing again about a decade back, it was pretty much the same. I wrote what was comfortable and happy and made me look…good.
Then I met Andrew Harris in what would become Blue Columbine. Seriously, not the kind of hero I’d set out to invent. In the early stages of rewrites, I’d get comments from people looking at my work saying, “I do not like this character. At all. You need to make him likable.” It would make me tear up. Because I knew exactly what they meant.
I discovered something through writing a story that was beyond myself… God can use anything to break through our stubbornness. For me, the learning was a lesson in compassion. Meeting Andrew, writing his story often made me frustrated, with both him and his co-star Jamie. Why couldn’t they get it together? Why couldn’t they just do the right thing? Why did he have to be such a jerk? Why did she have to be such a noodle? Why did it take him nearly losing his life to see what he was doing? Why couldn’t Jamie forgive him when he’d changed and move on?
Life is just more complicated than black and white. If it wasn’t, God wouldn’t have commanded us to practice justice AND mercy.
Interestingly, God not only began peeling my layers of cold arrogance, he began to show me the places of compromise in my own life. I guess I’m not as black and white as I first thought.
So, this new project…
It’s a struggle because the issues are honestly beyond me. I wonder, am I presumptuous to take this on? How can I possibly relate? Is this really something God wants me to pursue?
And when He whispers yes, I tremble. Because the thing is, He teaches me through the process, and often it becomes painful. I see the agony I had previously overlooked. I see hearts that I once had thought calloused, but now know are actually so shattered they almost cannot move. And then He shows me my own ugly places—places I’ve pushed away and that have become hardened. He shows me how I have failed to love. Where I do not offer compassion. And where I ignore my own failings.
I don’t like that. I don’t really want to go there.
Perhaps there’s a reason Jesus often taught in parables. We relate to story, it gets inside of us and begins to untie the knots we’ve worked hard to secure. Story becomes vivid; it echoes in our imaginations, teaching when theory failed to penetrate.
It becomes inescapable.
And maybe a place of learning. Of repenting. Of turning. Of forgiveness.
Maybe in it, I can become a little more like the great storyteller Himself.
I do not want to escape that.