Finding Meaning in Writing

Sometimes it seems like being a writer isn’t really a big deal. Especially because I write fiction. How does that help anyone? Is it even something that matters?

Sometimes we need a story to understand a concept or to put a different spin on a topic. Fiction can challenge your beliefs and leave you torn as you consider how you would act in that situation. It can help you see something you didn’t see before. It can even spur you to take action.

I think about the parables Jesus told and I’m reminded that creating fictional stories can be important. A story that has meaning behind it resonates and sticks with the readers. If Jesus used stories to help people understand, then being a storyteller can be a noble task if it’s used in a positive way.

I am reading The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho. It’s a simple story with a deeper meaning. I’ve read it before, but I don’t think I was mentally ready to accept what it had to say. I had teenager syndrome where I didn’t think it could teach me anything. Now, I’m finding it very meaningful, especially because of where I’m at in my life today.

In the past year or two, I’ve become an avid reader. At first, it was really to escape reality. To have an adventure in the midst of my boring life. I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie. But I read, not just to escape, but to understand.

I understand myself more than many people do. College gave me time to sort through some issues, and my travels have opened my eyes to the good and bad that lives inside me. It sounds some simple when I put it that way. So conquered. But that beast does rise up and go for my throat from time to time. Conquering our demons is not something that only happens once. It always comes back for more. That’s the nature of the beast.

Stories can help me make more sense of myself, but lately, I think they are helping me understand the forces at work outside of me as well.

Stories can help you understand someone else’ motives. As a writer, I need to know the motives of my characters. So as a reader, I search for those motives in the author’s characters. I need those motives to believe in what the story has to tell me. No one acts in a malicious way without having an underlying reason, even if it has nothing to do with the person they are attacking. If you think of it that way, it’s easier to forgive someone for mistreating you.

In the end, I’m grateful to be a writer. There’s something amazing about sharing my heart with people through what I write. It almost feels dangerous putting yourself out there and exposing yourself to possible criticism. And sometimes you do get hurt. But you are always rewarded your for the risk in some way.

Here’s to more writing risks!

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St Paddy’s Day

Ah, St Paddy’s Day. For many Americans it means green beer, parades, and a pinch if you forget to throw on your green t-shirt and accessories. Really, it’s a day to commemorate Saint Patrick, who is credited with bringing Christianity to the Emerald Isle.

Today, I read that the people of Ireland hate when foreigners call it St. Patty’s Day or Patty’s Day. I love my Irish heritage, but I had no idea this was an issue. Patty is a shortened version of the name, Patricia. And Saint Patrick was a man. So it’s an ignorant, cultural mistake. Apparently Paddy is just fine as a shortened version of Patrick. So that said, happy St. Paddy’s Day!

For some people this is not an important holiday. But for me and my college roommate, it was our favorite time of the year. We loved the green celebration and the 24 hour time frame when everybody is allowed to be Irish. We always had to make a big deal of it. Sometimes that involved beer or liquor (more often than not) and other times cheesy green beads and silly decorations (along with beer and liquor).

In hindsight, it is amazing how a religious holiday has turned into such a drinking festival with green everything and leprechauns hopping about. People always love an excuse to celebrate. And that’s not a bad thing.

One year, I was visiting my parents on St. Paddy’s Day. My parents didn’t seem to drink until I became an adult. I don’t know how they hid it from us when we were kids. In true Irish-style, I brought a bottle of Jameson. I told them we were going to take a shot of whiskey to celebrate. And to my surprise, they didn’t protest. With much pride and a bit of laughter, I watched my mom take a shot of liquor, followed with puckered lips and wide eyes. We had to coach her on how to do it, but she did well. It didn’t become a tradition, but I look back on it fondly each year.

This year, I plan to have a bit of Baileys Irish Cream since that’s the only true Irish drink we have in the house. It sounds boring and perhaps that makes me an old lady. But hey, I’m wearing my green as usual. Though the celebration is toned down this year, I think I have some more youthful St. Paddy’s celebrations left in me. Next year, everyone better be ready. It might just get a little crazy in here.

Photo credit: radellaf / Foter / CC BY

What I Used To Be

This weekend, I went through old photos and family videos with my parents, my sister, and my husband. It was a reminder of who I was. Somehow, after all these years, I’d forgotten. I’d forgotten the good as well as the bad. Sometimes our memory fails us and we fill in the gaps with what we think we lived through. And so often, we are wrong. It’s the documented photos that bring truth to the light.

Seeing myself as a baby and then a small girl growing up fast, I am proud of who I was. I was so blessed. I still am. I think you need to know what you used to be in order to know what you are. You have to come face-to-face with your past to be able to meet up with present day. If you can’t go beyond the things of your past, you are doomed to live there the rest of your days. But when you get too focused on the future, you lose both the present and your past.

I have rediscovered my past. It was full of adventure and life crammed up next to troubles and vicious tears. As we were watching one video, I heard my grandpa’s voice. He was running the camera. A flood of tears erupted out of me. He died several years ago and I had forgotten the sound of his voice. But when I heard it again, I felt like it had been there all along. My grandpa has never left me, even if I forget things about him as the years move on. Human nature is to forget. Sometimes it eases the pain. But it’s always better to remember. To remember and cherish or to remember and learn.

I’ve been living in neither the past nor the present. But no one can live in the future. That’s why it’s the future. It hasn’t happened yet. And by definition, we’ll never live in the future because when we get there, it becomes the present. So I haven’t been living at all.

I used to be forgetful of my past. I used to walk away from the pain, burying the good along with all that bad I so desperately wanted to get rid of. I used to be shamed by what little material wealth I have now. I used to be completely obsessed with hopes for the future. But that’s just what I used to be.

Photo credit: www.ForestWander.com / Foter / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: www.ForestWander.com / Foter / CC BY-SA