Me before I write: Okay, I’ll give myself fifteen minutes and then I want to read and do some yoga and watch a movie and then take a nap and then have some lunch and then…
Me two seconds after I sit down to edit: Yeah I’ll be here all day
That’s love for you.
I skipped my poem edits and immersed myself in my novel rereads. It was wonderful and scary and dreamy. Yeah mostly dreamy.
I can’t wait to get it out and publish thing. I mean, I always want to publish anything, but for this book, it really speaks. And even though I wrote this first draft about five months ago, it speaks to now, in sometimes eerie appropriateness.
I took a nap shortly afterwards, dozing to the strings of Holst’s Venus movement, when I had a sudden thought that awakened me—we are both story and plot.
I was taking a reference from Stephen Koch’s distinction of the two terms in his wonderful book, The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop which I reviewed here.
In it he says that story “is an account of linked events. It’s shape, its movement from beginning to end, can be suggested rapidly and felt intuitively. In other words, it is subject to paraphrase.”
Plot is more concrete. It is the moment by moment machinations that help the story move—the twists and turns, the revelations, and every other device we use. It is the craft.
His example is that we pretty much know the gist of Hamlet, but we would be hard-pressed to recite it word for word or even to name whole scenes from the play. You “know” the story of Hamlet in a different way than you “know” its plot.
But it wasn’t the subject of writing, ironically enough, which sprung me up from my nap, but the idea that we tell ourselves stories; that the plot of our lives—the unique, tiny, detailed actions and reactions we go through—is the conscious river that is moving just above the earth of our more solid but itself moving unconscious—the stories we’ve been telling ourselves since we were children.
I found this fascinating and surreal, like I’d brushed against something bigger than myself. In order to find our true calling, our lives and love and joy and peace and freedom as we see it, do we move the plot around while ignoring our story?
I don’t think so, and I think I’ve been moving the plot around of my life’s story when really I must pay attention to my story–the stories I tell myself and that have been told to me.
Does anyone else feel like this? Does this make sense?
I want to open it up to you.
Please leave your thoughts, comments, and answers below—can we rewrite our stories? What do the plots of lives have to do with it?
Create and Complete
And remember to listen to the good wolf