Why Can’t Life be Like Writing?
Why can’t life be like writing? I’ve been asking myself this this week after a friend found a solution to a major problem in his manuscript by the addition of an introduction. I’ve also experienced this at times. I reread a manuscript, thinking I’ve got major editing to do, only to move a chapter here or there, tweak a couple scenes or add one and viola! Problem solved.
If only life were like writing. There would be mulligans galore, the opportunity to erase mistakes, experiment with ideas without repercussions, and time travel back and forth until you get it right. And then there’s editing. You could edit out all those “ums” and “ya knows” and other idiosyncratic phrases we use to fill in gaps. We would all be brilliant! Pearls of wisdom would drip off our lips like drool off a mastiff. Who wouldn’t want to lie at our feet and listen to us?
Life is Messy
Life is messy! And so, our stories, if we want them to be true to life, need to be messy. But we have control. We decide which messes to create, how our heroes are going to stumble and fail. I like the fact that I get to decide who lives and who dies in my books. I chart the course for my characters. Yes, I need to keep them in character. Even though they may be my creation, my characters take on a life of their own and sometimes tell me what they are going to do. Still I have the final say. They move in accordance to my wishes, unlike children and husbands who insist on charting their own course.
I find ways for my young heroines to succeed in life, or not. To find love, or not. And, if one story line doesn’t work, I rewrite it. My life, not so much.
Why Can’t Life be Like Writing?
Because it wouldn’t work. Our lives are intertwined in such a way to make this impossible. Who would be in control? That all mighty question. Each of us has our own story to live. One change in my life story may affect another’s story in ways that are unpredictable and potentially disastrous. Who gets to decide whose story gets changed for a more positive outcome? It’s like when the players on both football team are praying for a win, who decides?
Better to Leave it to God
There are no mulligans in life, no do-overs when we make mistakes and fall on our faces as if the mistake never happened. We can’t rearrange the order in which events in our life happen. We can’t go back and erase that scene in order to put ourselves in a better light. And that’s okay, because there is forgiveness and the possibility of new beginnings out of the mess of the old. In fact, it’s good our mistakes can’t be blotted out like they never happened because we are able to learn from them.
Why can’t life be like writing? Because the great Creator is the one in charge. Only God knows the order of the universe and our place in the vastness of eternity. Our all-powerful God gives us the ability to write our own stories, but within her guidelines. We can’t go back and change the past, but we can go forward.
So, go ahead, write your story. It will be messy and unpredictable at times, but, for those who believe, we know the final outcome.
Remember the Stories of our Veterans
This weekend we remember the lives of the men and women in the military who made the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives for their country. Their stories fill Arlington Cemetery and cemeteries throughout our country. They are stories worth remembering, worth honoring. Take a moment this weekend and remember the vets in your community, those living and dead. And if you know a veteran, ask them to share the story of their life.
Happy Memorial Day!
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