Sue Monk Kidd wrote a book called When the Heart Waits that speaks to my soul more with each passing year. I read it in my 30s. In it, she introduced the concept of “remaining in my questions.” As an impetuous Type A who thinks too much, I have lots of questions.
John Eldredge talks about it too. He calls it “being comfortable with mystery” and “not striving.”
I think I’m starting to understand why plotters work the way they do. Also, why I work the way I do.
Yes, I make decisions. I brainstorm. I write lists and a lot of questions in my notes as I’m starting to shape a story. But there are things I know about the story and characters and things I don’t and I very much take the perspective that I’m listening when I write.
I’ll write based on what I have and so the story unfolds. Sometimes, it isn’t right. I’ve written it just so I have something. I scrap those bits and rewrite them later.
What’s frustrating is the questions. Waiting for the answers to the questions. Hence my thoughts today about remaining in my questions. It’s an active thing. I take whatever question I’m boiling over and keep it in the forefront of my thinking, but I don’t try to answer it. I just look at the question.
Sometimes, I write potential answers in a list. Brainstorming. Then I will talk to the husband about it. He’ll tell me what he thinks, always insightful. Just talking the questions out helps. But sometimes I don’t find answers. So I have to remain in the question.
I move on, write what I can without answering it.
A lot of times, the answers come first thing in the morning. I wake up knowing. I sometimes dream or see an image in my head that leads me to the right solution. I chase down clues.
I’m trying something new now. I’m trying to write short stories about all my questions. Fill in the blank worksheets don’t do it for me. I don’t know because I haven’t written it yet. But maybe if I write the short story I can get to the answer.