“At the beginning of dinner, his name was William. By the end of dinner he was called Edmund and he was going to stay longer than I expected.”
I’ve never written a fiction story. I enjoy reading them and have been taken to many worlds through the writings of Shakespeare and J.K. Rowling and most recently, L. M. Montgomery. I’ve never thought deeply about how these stories are crafted or how they came alive in the imagination of one person before being put to paper and sent out to the world. I never realized that there are worlds inside of my fellow human beings, just bursting to enter into our own.
My roommate, Carrie, is a writer. I’ve come to realize that there are worlds inside of her that even she doesn’t know about yet. Sometimes she gets glimpses of these worlds in unlikely places, like while sitting in church or driving home from work. Other times she intentionally enters in to discover what parts of their story need to be told.
Edmund is a character in a world that I have entered into through Carrie’s stories (and I happen to think that ‘Edmund’ is a much more suited name than ‘William’). She’s in the middle of writing this story, and knows where she wants it to go but knows that I may not be happy with that direction. I like happy endings. And I’m learning the value of pain and conflict in any good story.
Our friend Seth, also a writer, joined us for lunch the other day. Seth and Carrie talked about writing and stories and creating worlds for others to enter into. I marveled at the depth and realness of such places and people. What a vulnerable position it puts a writer in – to share these pieces of a world that come from inside of himself. I watched the agony on Seth’s face as he explained: “I know where my characters are now. And I know where they need to go. But in order to get there, well, it’s going to be a painful process. It’s going to be hard to write.”
His characters are his creations. They are a piece of him. They are a product of his experiences, his interactions, and his very self. As I saw the pain in my friend’s expression, I wondered if God might feel the same way. We are His creation, made in His image, a piece of His very self. He knows where we are going and He knows what it is going to take to get us there – and it pains Him.
I don’t know what story Carrie will need to tell that I won’t like. One of the characters may die or one may sacrifice her freedom for the greater good. But Carrie, the creator of this tale, knows what needs to happen for the story to be great. She knows the big picture. She knows where the characters need to end up and what obstacles they will need to overcome to get there. The characters can’t see the end; they’re in the middle of it just like we are. We’re also in the middle of a story that is filled with pain, conflict, and sacrifice. I imagine that it pains the Creator to write this story. But He knows where we’re going and what it will take to get us there. He knows that these present sufferings cannot be compared to the glory that is to come.