Riding the Whirlwind of Story

Poet and teacher Natalie Diaz says that stories are energy and I believe her.

While I’m hard-pressed to find anything that is not energy, energy takes many forms, manifesting at varying rates of vibration. You must be receptive to it, though, as a writer or a reader or as some random person minding his/her business who suddenly gets swept away by the chance meeting with a tsunami of story.

When I’m thinking about writing a story, I delay and delay and delay because I know that once I commit to that story, the whirlwind begins, has no mercy, is ubiquitous, steals sleep and sanity and every unguarded thought. But all that is one of the joys of writing, it’s like surfing, skiing, skydiving and the best sex you’ve every had.

Those of you who’ve been reading this blog for a while know that when story energy appears, I ride it with little (if any) knowledge about where the whirlwind is going. Today, while I was more or less innocently minding my own business, a new character appeared in my novel in progress. “Who are you and where the hell did you come from?”

“I’m Julia Hughes Adams from uptown Manhattan and apparently got pulled away from the comforts of Harlem into the Florida Panhandle through an unkind wormhole in space.”

“I feel your pain,” I said.

“I doubt it, white boy,” she said.

Long ago, I stopped trying to answer the question of how the hell do these things happen? There’s no point in asking though I suspect the answer has to do with quantum entanglement.

I’ve learned the hard way that writers have to open themselves up to these story whirlwinds if they want to write stuff that’s any good, that resonates with people, that has the guts to injure readers where they need to be injured and restored anew.

The whole shebang is similar to getting really stoned and/or really drunk and letting whatever happens happen. Sure, you might end up in jail; if you do, that adds depth to your story. Whatever happens, you’ll probably embarrass yourself, but–to put it bluntly–you need to stop giving a rat’s ass about such things even though it might tick off your parents or spouse.

Let the story be what it wants to be. Or else.