As some of my friends and readers know, I recently went live with a FAQ and Directory for a board on the OYAN forum, "Ask the Teacher." I am still sorting out all the FAQ topics for posting on that site. I won't go into the details, but I wanted to share a question that I've run into several times:
"How do I find the perfect story?"
Also comes in the guise of "how do I find the right story," "how do I know if I have the right story," and "is this one better than that one?"
It's a more serious question than one would think. How do you find the right story? I would say at first that you don't. Every once in awhile, you're lucky enough to stumble into one. You'll find a book that seem so right that you can't imagine not writing it right now. You may even tell yourself "it would be better if I waited for a few years, and wrote it when I had more experience..." but you can't. You just know it's The Story. Your story. The one that if you had to leave it for a moment, you'd explode. Sometimes, there is no doubt.
But most of the time, there is. It feels like you're wondering around in the dark, grasping at characters and themes, trying desperately to bring them together into some kind of manageable format that resembles a story in some manner. You fill discontent and uncertain, unsure if any of it is even going to be worth the trouble you put into it.
Yes, I'm describing myself. I think I'm describing others, too, others in this small and misunderstood group of people known as writers. There are flashes of brilliance, but they come through hours of hard and uncertain work. We don't know if the lightbulb's going to work. We just know that we want to build a lightbulb. And, sometimes, we find 1,000 ways NOT to do it first.
I think some of this process I'm describing helps explain where I am now. I had a flash of brilliance--brilliance I can't even claim as my own--in 2009, and I've been longing to get back there ever since that journey ended, or seemed to end, in August of 2009. Sometimes I think that perhaps my journey isn't really over with that story. Sometimes I think I'm supposed to be seeking for something new.
Currently, I'm on the latter again. If my posts haven't made this evident, I have been sawing back and forth a lot during these last few weeks, and I even thought I had some nudging from God. I'm not sure again. So I'm still searching.
The story may not be perfect when I find it, but I know it'll be right. Because it's not really stumbling in the dark. It's being led through the dark, working in the dark, until some light enters that darkness. Sometimes it's just for the author, for their own search towards greater light and beauty. Sometimes it becomes a beacon for others.
But whatever the case, it's right. Every story is worth something.
P.S. I'm not likely to be on for several weeks...if I don't get back by Christmas, then Merry Christmas right now! May the day and the season be blessed. Remember what we're really celebrating.