Crafting Vision Into Story

“I don't want to eke out my life like a resource in short supply. The only selfish life is a timid one." - Jeanette Winterson, #365StrongStories by Marisa Goudy“I don't want to eke out my life like a resource in short supply. The only selfish life is a timid one. To hold back, to withdraw, to keep the best in reserve, both overvalues the self, and undervalues what the self is.” Jeanette Winterson, The Powerbook

A fresh green force thrums within me. It’s at once the rush of the ocean between two rocks and the ecstasy of spring in the narrow passage of a daffodil stem.

It is life. It is creation. It is the riotous movement of energy in a conscious, interconnected world. It is peace and wildness, a great force and wisest surrender.

There’s a hint of death and the inevitable cycle renewal in this celebration of aliveness too, but I’m not lingering on that right now.

This great movement and power, it terrifies me as much as it excites me. Despite my dreams and my ambitions and my yearning to leave a creative, benevolent mark on this world, I fear this great force. To give this much, to be capable of so much would disrupt the relatively quiet, predictable existence I have become so used to.

This vision of an internal sea and rising spring is just that: a visualization thrown against the screen of my mind. And yet, it’s also very real. Or, at least it can lead to very real things.

When I agree to allow that green swell of energy to be real enough to move me, life will expand and grow and change. It would be inconceivable that I could continue to eke out my life like a resource in short supply.

What a lovely picture. Now where’s the reader’s story in all that?

Alone, these musings paired with a Jeanette Winterson passage don’t have the force of story. If I’m lucky, I may offer up just enough poetry and inspiration to keep you interested, dear reader. In this noisy world of clickbait, the emphasis on “news you can use,” and ad copy structured to appeal to the bits of the brain that can be manipulated into action, I’m not counting on it. Especially because you come to me for stories of entrepreneurship and motherhood and writing advice, not abstract snapshots from my meditation cushion.

To really make you care, to make this into a story you can see and feel and find yourself inside, I would need to anchor you in something other than the rushing river of universal life force energy. You need to follow my journey, but how?

Slip that vision into a real life context

To feel like my story matters to you, perhaps you need to watch this vision interrupt my daily life. You need to see this experience loom larger than all my excuses about sleep deprivation and the incessant interruptions of children and the madness of trying to run a family and a business and a creative existence.

The story’s conflict might come when I realize I can no longer collapse into my limitations - not if I want to honor this magical energy and live abundantly. You could accompany me as I fight against my old ways of numbing myself - red wine, chocolate, and a good Netflix binge. The big climax may be an argument with my husband since we tend to escape to the couch together and it’s always hard on a marriage when one partner commits to transformation.

And the resolution of my story (hopefully!) comes in the form of a creative triumph and a deeper dedication to this brilliant life force.

As always, ask yourself if this story is even worth telling (on your blog, in this moment)

That sort of story I outline above is more complicated to tell - at least if you want to make it a worthwhile read! And anyway, in my case, it would be fiction rather than memoir because I haven’t lived the story and earned the right to tell it all.

Then again, there’s a risk in waiting til there’s a beginning, middle, and end. The transcendent moment that started it all may start to fade. When I juxtapose the mundane details and the marital discord and the spiritual download, the whole thing may seem artificial and forced and even irrelevant.

Today, I’m describing this flash of insight because putting it on the page makes it real for me. I am publishing it because this #365StrongStories project gives me a platform to share something that’s personal and a little bit outside the lines of what I am “supposed” to write about as a writing coach.

Depending on the nature of your work and the goal of your own blog, however, your own a storyless story might find a better home in a Facebook post or in an email to a friend.

But please, don't hold the best of yourself in reserve

That said, if you’ve got something tremendous bubbling up inside, don’t hoard it and save it until all the magic leeches out of it. Even if it feels merely curious, give it a chance to become something that matters.

Dare to birth your big, brave, “this one burns the old script” ideas. Otherwise, we're left to wander mostly comatose in the world of dull, safe, useful blog posts. The forces that keep us small and miserly will win.

Do remember: “The only selfish life is a timid one.”