Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Journaling is Like Pantsing

Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennett in A's "Pride and Prejudice" (1995)

I'm trying to wrap my mind around my own life.  You know, first impressions can be bent into either direction.  I can see a person or a job or anything in a negative light.
You won't believe this girl I saw today.  She was the most backward tomboy I ever met...
I walked into the clinic and heard a dog's heartbroken sob.  And I knew I couldn't work here.
 Or, as Elizabeth Bennet (in Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice) said, "I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry."
But where it goes from there is completely unpredictable.  I could discover that the backward tomboy made the very best friend, and, only months later, find us nearly inseparable.  The clinic could become the calling of my life.  And Elizabeth Bennet could end up knowing Mr. Darcy to be the finest man she had ever met.  Or the reverse could happen.  After all, Elizabeth also knew that she wouldn't marry Mr. Collins -- and she was right.

Somehow, as I record my life events in a journal, I am frustrated by my own blindness.  Using Pride and Prejudice as an example, think about the differences in the writing in regards to Mr. Collins and Mr. Darcy.  You know (even if Elizabeth doesn't) that Mr. Collins would never be right for her...but that Mr. Darcy might.  And when the story turns out as it does, you feel a sense that it "all turned out right."

Perhaps it's because I am a story writer, but I want to be able to foreshadow things, knowing how it will turn out -- even when I journal my own life.  I want to make "my words now" compatible with the way the story ends.  But, alas, it's beyond my sight to see.  I am not the author of this one. Instead, I am in the midst, as blind as my characters are; and my Author is the Almighty God.

Which is why journaling is like pantsing.  As most of you know, writers are often defined as plotters or pantsers or a combination.  Plotters are the ones who plot out the entire story before they start writing.  Pantsers are the ones who just start writing ("flying by the seat of their pants") and watch to see where the story takes them.  And, as much as we may try to plot our lives, at some point we realize that, while we have a choice of whether we are going to follow the story He set out for us, it's not us that are the authors.

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