I’ve been seriously writing for about six years now. (“Seriously” meaning taking myself to be a writer and not doing it “just because”.) For a long time–I would estimate, oh…maybe 5.5 out of those 6 years–I tried so hard to be important, to say something that would make a difference, to do what I thought it was I needed to do. Little did I realize at that point in time that by making myself try to be important, I only inflated my ego. I didn’t say one damn thing that made a difference anywhere. Sound and fury.
So I’ve stopped trying to be important.
Last September I ran across the beginning of a story that had been brewing for about five years. (Funny timing, huh? I don’t believe in coincidence, FYI.) This story gestated and hid most of its secrets from me. So much so that I struggled to find any sort of foothold or way to grasp starting it. Truly, frustration is the writer’s secondhand man and most irritating bedfellow. What I failed to realize about this story is that some characters from my previous series (We’ll call it The Previous Series) had been begging me to listen to them. I refused. Consequently, I never got around to finishing the second draft of The Previous Series’ fourth book. And I met Discouragement, the writer’s second most irritating bedfellow.
I knew the brick wall I came up against was there on purpose. Sometimes God has to stop me dead in my tracks and say, “Surprise! You’re listening now!” The Previous Series died. But out of that death, both and I the New Series were born. Let me count for a second…10 or so characters from The Previous Series migrated into what was their true home–their current home.
So what does any of this have to do with being self-important? Let me lay it out for you. I, as an “omniscient writer supreme being thing”, thought myself above the story I’d been given a window to look in upon. Never say the story is yours, because it’s not. You’re not writing your autobiography. You’re writing a piece of work that the characters are living, and in their world, in their story, they’re people. Their experiences may reflect your own sometimes, but they’re not you. And you’re not their boss.
Do you walk down the street, peep in the windows, deem a family interesting, barge in, and declare that you’re going to dictate how they behave, think, and feel from now on? Well, I certainly hope you don’t. People get arrested doing that, you crazy cricket. That’s the same kind of principle about writing. You find a window into a world and become friends with the people in that world. You don’t just barge in and deem yourself Omniscient Writer Supreme Being Thing. No one likes a totalitarian, especially one who’s a writer. Be friends with your people, never their dictator.
“BOW TO ME.”
When you try to take over the world you discover, it doesn’t work. Believe me, I did that for 5.5 years before I finally got what I was doing. I was making myself way more important than I actually am. Making myself an authority when I couldn’t even take constructive criticism from my mom without it being an attack on my person. You’ll never be the Omniscient Writer Supreme Being Thing that people brag about, because they’re puffing out their chests, players of sound and fury. The best writers–real writers–know that they’re not the ones who are important. Their characters–their people–are the ones who matter. The window and the story and the world belong to their people, not to them.
I’ve stopped trying to be important, and my people are showing me that I’m so much more than being important, so much more than the Omniscient Writer Supreme Being Thing. I’m human. And only humans can connect with each other, with the world, and with God.