Do you know what your core story is? It’s possible that most authors have one. Deep down, it’s a refrain, or an echo, of what you yearn for. Sometimes we need to write a whole lot, or exercise our creativity for a decade, to discern it.
Once you do, you begin to understand how to be a better author. Perhaps, you also understand yourself on a deeper level.
You might get a sense of your mission in this time and place.
Every person is a mission from God to a time, a place, and a people. The whole of our lives is an effort to stress test us, to see how honest and real we get with ourselves.
I believe that authors can get a leg up on this mission. Because we’re constantly wrestling with internal dialogues, becoming multiple characters and exploring different ideas, we cultivate the ability to use our imagination.
And our imagination is how we discover and discern reality.
Your core story
When I was a kid, I remember an article about an author, someone who wrote introspective, noir thrillers, maybe. I don’t know the name. But the article described something fascinating.
It said that the author was always writing the same story. It was a kernel at the core of every tale he told, wrapped in different narratives and characters. It said something like “He walked the streets of his private ocean, and he was drowning.”
That fascinated me. I began to wonder what my ‘core story’ was. So I began to pay attention to myself. To pay attention to the stories I loved best, to the stories that I wanted to tell. The stories I would sit with and replay over and over again.
It took a long time for me. But I think I found it. And the more I circle it, like an obelisk standing in a twilight field, I begin to realize that it’s a part of my core. I’ve discovered something new about myself.
And I suspect it’s the same for every author. That’s why I’m calling it the ‘call to author.’
The gift of our interests
There are so many things about us that we can’t control. Things that we’re gifted. Like our looks, our interests, the moment we were born in, the hand of cards life dealt us.
And at some point, some of us realized that we absolutely love authoring. We love writing.
That’s the funny thing about our interests. If you aren’t interested in something, no amount of effort and ice cream will make you love it. It just won’t.
But once you’ve understood something that ignites you at a deep level, something that you realize you have energy to do, and want to sacrifice and spend time doing, we fight for it.
That’s the funny thing though.
We didn’t choose it. Our interests seem to choose us. We just discover them.
It makes me wonder what else is hiding inside us, waiting for the right moment for us to turn a corner and realize that we love it too. Love it with a passion and a preparation to sell a fortune to buy the field with this hidden pearl.
For each of us, life is partly a journey of discovery. And it’s a journey that goes both ways at once.
It goes out into the world of matter and meaning and humanity, and it goes inward into your insights, individuality, and inspiration.
You are a key that unlocks something in this world.
An inner map of meaning
The associations you generate make your outlook. Nature, nurture, and your own choices are the trinity that make up your personality. And personality changes as you learn new things. As you do new things.
You discover your interests.
In a way, understanding that is a step toward humility. The things we love and move toward existed before us. They are woven into us, and like turning up a speaker, come into focus and sound in time.
And one day, you might discover the inner call that rivets you to certain stories. It’s like an inner map. A map that has special meaning for you.
Maybe simply knowing about this will help you start to see the threads that bind you to myths and fairy tales. Maybe you already know what it is. And you’ll find it’s like a diamond you discovered. You’ll keep turning it in the sunlight, to see it from different angles. You’ll hold it up in different places in the world and in time, to see how it bends the light and patterns different walls.
I think that when we discover our call, it’s a piece of music we can’t let go of. We hum it over and over. Like a musician, they will take a single piece of music and refract it into a variety of versions, use different instruments, transpose it into a different scale or tempo. But once you know the theme, you’ll recognize it.
Does it actually matter?
I think so. If you never discover it, does it mean you’re somehow less? No. But it might mean that you’ll spend a lot of time creating stories that don’t really resonate. They’ll interest you for a while, but not on a deep level.
You might waste a lot of time. You might be moved by messages you don’t believe in, because you’re not anchored.
It’s the stories with that tang of the deep that you’re happiest with. Because you understand them from the inside out, not the outside in.
Once you have a hand on this Ariadne thread, you’ll more easily wend your way through the labyrinth. You’ll know what to leave out and what to fill in. It’s like an inner template that’s distinctly you.
It took me a long time to unlock mine, and I’m pretty sure I’m still figuring it out. But it’s why I love things like the Chronicles of Narnia, and Stargate SG1, the Secret Garden.
It goes something like this: ‘And then they turned the corner, or opened a door, and Heaven was there.’
For me, it’s that sense of unexpected surprise and discovery. And Heaven not as a passive, inactive haven of contemplation, but as a reality of deep action and effort and climbing further up, and further in. No more scales on our eyes, but we can see clearly, and we can go to work with even greater excitement.
Once I found that little thread, I realized that it’s the background music to all of the stories I’m storing up and brainstorming. My characters are almost always bent on a certain life, and then an igniting moment changes everything, and they’re impelled into deeper contact with true reality, God, or a fuller experience of life.
So this is a call to you. An invite to start thinking about your own call. No one else can tell you what it is, just like no on else can involve themselves in your relationship with God. It’s something you have to do on your own.
And it’s something he has planted within you for you to find.
You’ll only find it by doing things. Lots of things. Or reading and watching lots of things. Being involved, trying out new experiences, meeting people, listening, filling yourself up with the fire of a thousand suns.
It’s only in doing all of that that you’ll start to see the pattern within yourself, the pattern of boredom and interest. Some will stop too soon, and mistake boredom for disinterest, when it might be inexperience.
And some of us will be passionate about certain messages because of a phase of life we’re in. That’s also true too, especially if you are dealing with trauma, or poor parenting, or the difficulties of being repressed and manipulated by narcissists. Many of us will lash out blindly against this treatment, and we’re not always wrong.
We will hunger for lifestyles and stories that answer a call to validate our value and dignity, and give us space to find out who we are.
That’s a whole different topic right there. But it’s an invite to be patient with yourself. And if you find yourself changing your call as you understand it, do that.
Your mystic call to author
You are gifted to yourself and the world to articulate something about the depths of God. A single facet of his infinite creativity. You’re a single, stunning note in the symphony of his music.
The goal of life is to understand that, and enjoy it, and detach from all the things that hold us back from being the best versions of ourselves. As Catholics, we know that it takes the life of the Trinity to do that; God holding in existence, Christ initiating the call and journey and end, and the Holy Spirit breathing in each moment within us to fire the life.
It might take you a lifetime to discover the right key and the right lock that unlocks the garden, and that’s ok. It’s not something you can do apart from God. But it is something you have to respond to and work with on your own. That’s what mysticism is.
It is a mystic path that every human must take, will take, and few choose to start in this life.
You are a key that unlocks something in this world.