For the New Year I decided I wouldn't focus on resolutions or goals. Not that I don't have objectives for the next year, but I just don't want to think in those terms. I don't want another list of new habits. I don't want to track my successes or failures. I don't want to erase the past or focus solely on the future. I just want to be me. The me that I should be.
So instead of goals I'm asking myself: What story do I want to write?
When I think of a story, as a writer, I automatically think of characters first. As opposed to plot, conflict, or setting, my primary focus is always character. Who is the protagonist? What does he want? What are his relationships? What is he like?
This last one is always the hardest for me to describe. Mostly because I'm just bad at it, but partly because I hate doing it. My problem is I can't straightforwardly describe a character. I don't think it's that simple. I can't summarize a character because people can't be summarized. We are multi-faceted. The description changes depending on what point-of-view, what lens, what direction you choose to look at them. So I can't just write the characteristics. I have to write the scenarios. I have to give the character situations and circumstances. I have to see their reaction.
Because I realized that the best way to understand a character is to know how they would respond.
As I'm thinking about the story I want to write, I'm inadvertently thinking about the character I want to be, so I think about my favorite characters in films, books, or TV series. The best stories, my favorite stories, are character driven. The story, the plot, the conflict, all come from within the characters. It is not about the situation they're in or what is going on around them, but it is about the character's response. Without response there would be no journey. I conclude that this is exactly how I'm supposed to be writing my story.
For years I've been asking myself the question: Who am I?
For months I've been struggling with this issue if identity. Not only do I analyze myself, but I constantly worry about how others see me. I put pressure on myself to continue searching, to understand who I am so that I can be ready for what God wants me to do; whatever the future is. I tell myself that until I know who I am I can't possibly be of any use. I'm no good. I gotta keep fixing things so that I'm no longer a walking disaster.
But the characters I'm drawn to don't do that. They don't sit around at coffee shops for hours contemplating their purpose. They don't read non-fiction inspirational books, perusing each individual line, highlighting phrases or sentences to try and apply to their life. My favorite characters are cocky. Not egotistical but confident in their abilities, talents, or gifts; sometimes over-confident, but I prefer that to sheer arrogance. They may not know exactly who they are, but they know what they believe. Others may not know who they are, but if they stick around long enough they will see it through the character's response to certain situations. That's what my favorite characters do. They respond. Decidedly.
I want to find myself in situations in which I can respond.
If I have to use the term, that would be my resolution, but overall this is the story that I want to start writing.
Except I was left with another complication: How? I can't go looking for trouble. I can't just respond for the sake of responding; because response is about reaction, choice, and fear of the unknown. I had to let the situations find me, and allow the obstacles to come of their own accord. When you know that authentic response can't be pursued you find that you're stuck waiting, and I didn't want to be stuck waiting; because that's what I was doing before. I was tired of preparing. I didn't care if I wasn't ready for my purpose, but I didn't want to just sit around and do nothing anymore. That's not who I am. So today, after days of thinking about this, I did something strange.
I asked God to pick me up and throw me exactly where He wants me to go.
Now that's a scary thought. "Hey God, just throw me...oh...and one more thing...don't tell the elf." I didn't hesitate, I wanted him to do it, and I didn't think twice. All at once I was invigorated, nervous, anxious, and excited. Even if I don't know where I need to be, I'm pretty sure that He does, and I'm pretty confident that wherever I land I'll be forced to respond; in fact, that's exactly what I'm counting on. I no longer want to speak about who I am or what I want to be, but I want to show it. I want my re-actions to speak for themselves. I want to respond to situations, miniscule or life changing, and allow that to say who I am and what I believe in. If I don't like the response, then I change it, and next time respond accordingly. Not because I'm worried about being accepted or because I'm afraid of what people think.
True nature is exposed when characters are forced to respond.
My only hope is that when God picks me up, before He throws me, that He holds me there for a second. That He reminds me, in that moment, just how much He loves me and cherishes me. That He would believe in me and reassure me that I was made for this. I'm capable, because He made sure of that when He created me, and even if I fail, His son will be there to hold me accountable - as long as I'm listening.