The Chicken or the Egg?

I had a lovely dinner with my Books & Culture editor John Wilson and his wife on Saturday evening.  Wendy made the most fantastic meal–a delicious soup from Simply in Season (which reminded me to pull it out of my cookbook cupboard when I returned home!), the most savory fish-and-caper-over-rice meal, with a delicious side salad of mangoes, avocados, and spinach, all sprinkled with a little lemon juice and allowed to “marinate.”  If it’s any indication of how good it all was, I’m salivating right now.

One thing I love about John and Wendy is the fact that they’re so embracing, so accepting, and although I presented many hard questions to them that night, they asked even more questions and prodded me into reading more books.  [That’s another good thing.  They know me well enough to know that prescribing books is the proper medicine for me!]

At one point, I broke down, explaining the difference between Eve and Noah (my second novel, just finished…by the way, that won’t be the title, because it’s about the women of Noah’s flood, not Noah).  I felt so strongly about Eve when I finished it–that it turned out exactly as I wanted it to.  I wanted it to be hopeful but not sappy.  I wanted it to treat life as “real,” not everything-will-always-turn-out-hunky-dory.  I wanted Eve to find Elohim again, but in an organic way, in an everyday kind of way, with the feeling that comes from living with an old shirt for a long time, not with a fresh enamored feeling that feels like Fourth of July fireworks.

When I was done with Noah, I didn’t feel the same way as I had with Eve.  My heart was in turmoil.  Was it Noah’s storm that had caused it, or was the unsettledness in my heart causing Noah’s storm in the book?  Which was it?  As you know, around Easter, I was asked some tough questions, and always seeking to be honest, I couldn’t answer them as I wanted to.  Because of this, I found it difficult to “hear” God or to experience God while writing Noah, which perhaps helped the book–I’m not sure.  Perhaps I was feeling Noah’s resistance and anger toward God, since he was given this huge responsibility, then “abandoned” for a time.  Well, I don’t know that for sure, but as I read the texts, it says nothing about how Noah felt about the whole situation.  I, myself, would be struggling to understand why God had said that His creation was good, but now He wanted to destroy everything.  And why Noah?  Why his family?  If God had wanted to rid the world of evil, He failed.  It’s still here.  Noah’s family wasn’t so perfect.

When I was done with Noah, these were the whirling thoughts in my head.  My being done with a novel wasn’t an elated experience, nor was it peaceful.  And I wasn’t sure if it was just my state of mind, or if the questions that are in the novel are so tough and so disconcerting, that it through me off my game.  Or did it throw me off my game?

You see?  I don’t just want to write a book.  I want to write a good story, but one that has the deeper layers of life’s questions woven in.  Not to teach anything–heavens no!–but to always be probing why we’re here, what we’re to do here on this green earth, or watery earth, in Noah’s case.

Maybe I’m too attached to my stories.  Maybe I’m being too sentimental.  In my heart, I want to make a difference in this world.  I want to provide thoughtful moments for my readers–quiet spaces where they can exclaim, “Oh, I never thought of it quite that way.  What if this were the case?  How might my life change if I looked at the world in this way?  How would the people around me benefit?”

I’m only little old me (I should say “little old I,” but it sounds weird).  Really, in the grand scheme of things, I’m a miniscule speck in a grand universe.  But I truly believe that each of my actions and intentions are accounted for and weighed, and I want to know that the “waves” I’ve created are for good and not for evil.

Do you feel the same?  Have you thought of your life in these terms?

If not, you might want to watch The Butterfly Effect. The DVD has an alternative ending.  Watch both and see which you think is more powerful.

[Post image: Chicken by ozecha at stock.xchng]

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The quote I live by

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
--Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet

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