On the Nature of Change

It’s difficult sometimes to cope with change. When something dramatic happens, whether it’s good or bad, there’s a reevaluation that needs to happen as you adjust to a world that’s ever so slightly different (at least) than the world you lived in before. It’s the nature of the unexpected, and while a change that leaves you angry or sad is often more difficult to recover from, a change that’s mostly happy or exciting also demands recovery, since in both cases certain doors that you thought would remain open are suddenly closed. My friend Marie refers to it as a “blow to the subconscious,” and all of the emotion that accompanies that blow is part of your subconscious processing The Way The World Is Now, so you can move forward within it.

As a writer, I think dealing with change is actually more difficult, because as storytellers many of us can see more potential paths than others can. Not only that, we can envision what a particular moment or a particular life path might look like with vivid detail. I think we’ll often get the image wrong (or maybe that’s just me) but the predictive nature of our minds can at least help to prepare us for something that otherwise would catch us completely off-guard. But this is a blessing and a curse, since our ability to envision these paths makes them even more real to us, and so when one of those doors is closed the loss can be even more profound. That particular story will never be written, and in many ways there’s nothing more shocking or damaging for a writer than that.

But by the same token, writing helps us through these moments. A dynamic and exciting change in our lives exposes us to new people and new experiences that can feed our writing. And when we’re faced with change that leaves us with a tightness in our chest or a tremor in our hands, that can feed our writing, too – not just by feeding the emotional core of our writing, but by reviving the stories that we once saw for ourselves and giving them to our characters. There’s a catharsis in that, whether it’s releasing the nervousness that comes with a new job or the sorrow that comes with a loss. Whether it’s discovery writing a new story, or simply voicing your thoughts via a blog post. When your world – not the larger world we see in the news, but your personal world – is shifting so dramatically around you, sitting down and putting fingers to keyboard or pen to paper can seem like the most daunting task. But getting past that mental roadblock to jot down just a few words makes the next few easier, and can help your subconscious as it recovers from whatever blows it has received.

There’s an ethereal nature to the world, I think; things are always changing, and that can be difficult to grapple with. But if as writers we can envision dozens of possible paths, that means that we can see the various options we have for solidity and comfort and happiness, and that helps the subconscious, too. And piece by piece, word by word, you can find your grounding again, and prepare yourself for whatever the next change will be. Positive or negative, there’s no guarantee it won’t be difficult – but we’re all strong enough to get through it.

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