on writing :: the pilot

August 15, 2011

by christine mason miller

I recently sat down to write a story about an experience I was smack in the middle of. I was motivated by the idea that if I didn’t write about it as I was living it, the thoughts and emotions it was inspiring would become vague and blurry, and I would lose the opportunity to write a great story. With that goal in mind, I started pounding away at my keyboard, and before I knew an entire afternoon had passed and I’d filled fifteen pages. What began as a story about circumstances that were still unfolding evolved into a story about how the strange confluence of events that got the ball rolling years ago, a twist that caught me by complete surprise.

When I sit down to write, I usually do so with a specific topic in mind. What I don’t know is how (or if) I’ll be able to adequately and creatively express what I want to share about that topic. I have become quite comfortable with the notion that I’ll need to slog through some bad ideas before I find the real jewels, but I’m still figuring out how to give my stories as much leeway as possible to take me where they want to go. The day I decided it was time to unearth some of the emotions I was currently wrestling with, I somehow managed to get out of the way immediately, and the words poured out of me like never before.

In any area of life, the act of surrendering is usually what enables me to see the bigger picture and take a deep exhale. It is true in my relationships, when I’m submitting a book proposal, and when I am writing a story. In these moments – when I am able to let go of the reins – it is as if I am boarding an airplane bound for who knows where. Only after takeoff will I begin to get a sense for where I’m going, and only after having traversed some miles will I be able to land and see where I’ve ended up. My story is the pilot, and my work is to let it carry me.

5 Responses to “on writing :: the pilot”

  1. Lisa says:

    Christine, I completely agree with you – in fact, I wrote something similar on my blog yesterday. It’s like letting the Muse take control. I find it with both writing and art. Sometimes I’ll read something back and be amazed that I wrote it. It’s almost as if it didn’t come from the me I know! I also get scared that the magic won’t happen – the words or paint won’t flow, so I don’t start and prevaricate and procrastinate… Silly really!

    I loved reading this post!

  2. Pam says:

    Fabulous. What were the 15 pAGES ABOUT? I love this idea and it is insprirational. I think you are a good writer…diving into the void and fearish places.

  3. Cassie says:

    Love the glimpse into your writer self. Like the idea of ‘surrendering,’ too.

    The other night I wrote a rather personal post on my blog. I went with it because I’m trying to stay to my writing roots and not fill my blog with too much on decor and life snippets, when I feel like I should be digging in to ‘the story.’ The thing is, once I wrote it–it was late into the evening, and set it to be published, I fell asleep. Then in the morning, I wondered if I should had done that? Is it really for others–or for me, I thought. I ended up keeping it up, but it dawned on me then, that right now I have a relationship with both fear and writing.

    Do you experience that? You write your personal stories. If so, what have you done with those feelings?

  4. kathryn says:

    i love that last paragraph about surrendering…nice reminder when i’m soooo caught up in the physicality of it all!! to just let go with an exhale!!

  5. loubelcher says:

    Nice post. Yes, I agree… Surrender is the only way to get at the creativity. When we try to maintain strict control, we do tend to hold ourselves back.


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