“But I also wondered if he wasn’t right, that we were designed to live through something rather than to attain something, and the thing we were meant to live through was designed to change us. The point of the story is the character arc, the change.” -Donald Miller, from A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
I realized something today. Creating my characters, adding conflict, sending them through danger and heartache and plot twists — it changed them. But it changed me too.
For the first time in my life I set a goal, committed time, effort, and tears to it. And I achieved it. I wrote a book.
And in the process I realized that life really is about the process. We don’t just wake up skinny, or rich, or happily married. We have to work for those things. We have to give everything, every day, and creating art is no exception. I always thought I’d just write a book from beginning to end. Maybe I would have to tweak some word choices and fix a few spelling mistakes. But writing is so much more than that. It’s taking a step into your own personal character arc, surrendering to the transformation life has in store for you.
A book starts as an idea, a single seed that you water and let grow. The idea expands into a plot, into characters, into dialogue and voice. And then at some point, maybe even after you’ve written the book twice, it becomes a story, a whole world of possibilities. It becomes art.
As a writer, I am my own personal work of art. I learn and grow and adapt and never stay the same. I transform, each day ending differently than I began. While I might be creating arcs for my characters, they are creating a larger one in me. And that is a beautiful paradox.