On the day that I’m writing this, I’ve typed the word novelist several times and it keeps coming out noveling. “I’m a novelist” comes out “I’m noveling.”
Well. There’s something arresting there, especially since I decided long ago to write about “this business of story.”
I love stories. I read stories. I write stories. I live stories, with plot and character conflicts disassembling my tidy life plans every day. I share stories when I go deep in conversation with friends or walk beside them through their dry valleys. The fact is I see bits and pieces of stories flung around my ordinary day.
Dialogue. Humor. Moods. Obstacles. Disappointments. Faith gone dark. Determination. Overcoming. What it is that binds me to story?
My meanderings around this business of story take me to some dead ends and some scary places.
• Can I sell stories? We’ll find out when my contracted books start releasing.
• Can I survive the story of the storytelling industry, which seems to have a new cliffhanger every week?
• Can I shape stories? What am I contributing to the lives of people I care about?
• Can I sustain myself with stories? Can I make a living as writer? Can I carve out the time to feed my soul with the fruit of writing even if I don’t make a penny?
I tend to want to be at the end of stories. As a novelist I want to write stories that keep readers turning pages to get to the end. But I also want to know how things turn out in my own life story. What will be the payoff for my efforts, whether it be in relationships, ministry, or the next manuscript?
Almost every month, though, someone in my book group turns to a page to read aloud a striking passage that stills my hurrying. Mentally my tongue sloshes around trying to slurp up the wisdom and craft dripping from the words I hear. One exquisite paragraph, the precision of one sentence, even just one delicious word—story mingles in the writer’s choices, and zest lingers long after the book is closed. How could I have missed those morsels in my own reading? It’s a reminder to me of the splendor of being on the way somewhere, rather than being at the end of the story.
This business of story is about seeing life through a lens of story. We capture life within the words we wrestle onto the page. The meaning of moments comes into focus when the time is ripe.
As much as I want to understand the business of story to make a living as a storyteller, I want even more to understand the business of living a good story.
So I am “noveling” after all. I may just hang onto that accidental word.
How is your noveling going?
Note: On the day this posts, I’ll be driving across four states to be with extended family on Thanksgiving for the first time in six years. I’ll be on the lookout for free wi-fi along the way to check in with comments. Even if I’m late to the discussion, though, I hope you will find richness in conversation.