Monday, September 5, 2011
One of my very favorite writing books, which isn't really a writing book at all, is The Hero Within written by Carol Pearson. In it, the author talks about transformative change as we move through the different stages of our journey.
For some reason that phrase has really resonated with me, always in the back of my mind as I write. Probably in no small part because I've reached the point in the manuscript when everything is building to that big moment when my character sheds her old skin and steps into her new self. When she is truly and completely transformed by the events of the novel.
Then on twitter a while ago, I came across this quote by @Quotebelly:
"The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails." - William Arthur Ward
And it hit me; the act of adjusting the sails is not just about being realistic; it is also about being open to transformative change. A mere realist would batten down the hatches and hold on. But the act of adjusting the sails, of preparing yourself to accommodate what life is about to send your way, is a much more profound act of acceptance.
For some people, those bumps on life's road completely derail them or make them bitter or cause them to feel victimized. And while I hate tragedy and mishap as much as the next person, one of the only ways I can put my head down and get through it, is to try and see the situation as an opportunity for that sort of deep rooted change. To extract the life lesson that the universe is sending me. In doing that, in finding some nugget of wisdom to take from the incident, I feel that no matter what I have lost, I have also won.
The thing is, no one taught me that; not my parents or a church or a therapist. I have managed to learn that concept though stories.
Which is why in fiction, as writers, it is so vital that things in our story make sense, that the events in our stories are pushing our characters toward this transformative change. That is one of Story's most important roles in our lives, showing us what that sort of deep change looks like, feels like, how to recognize and respond to the opportunities when they arise.