I read this article and every since I’ve been considering the ways connection, social networking, and isolation impinge upon the writer’s life. And the theologian’s. How do these things enable us to communicate? How do they restrict us from doing so?
Latonya Mason Summers, author of Good to Me, told me a few years ago when I was struggling with my first manuscript, to focus on the story. I told her that I couldn’t finish my novel. She said, “Don’t write a novel. Tell a story. Focus on telling the story.” Those words have changed my approach to writing. In many ways Latonya’s advice has shaped my work in ministry as well since I’m telling a story when I preach or teach.
What does this have to do with mystery?
Mystery is something that is not discernible by human power alone. It is what must be revealed, illuminated, shown. Mystery must be given as a gift. It must be revealed or given by someone else, in this case, by God. We see it once the covers have been pulled and hear it once a story has been told.
Mystery comes from some place else, not from within. It is the story we were first told which lodged down deep and far inside us, the story that connected with us, that made sense to us in the heart. Writers write about those stories, and communicators tell them too.
We don’t know how those stories will look from start to finish, which is why telling the story is important. Not writing an article or penning a book or finishing a novel. Telling a story. So, I’m working to lose my fixation with novel writing. William Zinsser said that it’s a fixation that “causes writers a lot of trouble, deflecting them from all the earlier decisions that have to be made to determine its shape and voice and content.” When we connect with people, we have the chance to add a line or a paragraph or another sentence to the plot developing in them. Aside from the end result, we have the chance to say something that pushes them or confronts them. We get to use words which arrest or free, confine or liberate.
How you ever been told a story–one of faith, a funny tale, a dark tragedy–that showed you something you had never seen?