The Space for Paradoxes in Writing

September 27th, 2015 in Digital Storytelling

I just finished reading Liz Gilbert’s latest book Big Magic. A big THANK YOU for writing it. BigMagicFinal

At twenty six I’ve written (published some) short stories and am currently trudging through my first novel. In Big Magic, Liz shares an important concept for writers to realize: the space we creators must make for paradoxes. I think this is going to help me get through my first try at first novel, so I thought I'd share below some of the paradoxes she covers. 

Needing space to love each sentence / to remove or “kill your darlings”. Liz elegantly points out how she treats each sentence as if it is the most important one, the most elegant version of that sentence she can create. But then you might have to kill it. That’s okay. Accept this paradox. Take away what you must to make the story great.

To carry your inspiration with your fear. Much of the book explains how creators can deal with their inspiration and also deal with their fear. Liz believes you have to make room for both, but you can never let fear take the wheel. Fear can be good, but it can’t drive your creative choices or you’ll never get far into your creating. It can be hard to accept and carry both, but we must.

Write for yourself, but edit for others. When we are creating it is for ourselves. We read it to ourselves in our head. We tell the story to ourselves. The topics or themes are often obessions we love and care about. But the story must be interrupted by others. This is a paradox in itself and one that must be addressed often in the editing phase. Did that make sense to you? Great. Does it work outside of your head? Will the reader get it? If not it's got to be fixed.

Knowing the truth as creator / interpretation of truth as audience. A similar paradox but taking this a step further, though we might edit as best we can to send out our message to the world, we’re not in charge of it anymore when it’s released. We have no idea how the audience will interpret the story. That’s okay. We’ve done our best. It’s up to the reader now to digest and apply their own truths and meanings to the tale.

While editing my first book of work these paradoxes are helping me to realize that though we can do our best we can never know the outcome. We can only strive to do our best.

Each morning I wake up and try to squeez in a half hour or hour of editing.  I battle a flurry of emotions, feeling wonderful and excited one morning or angry and disappointed the next. I am busy trudging through the sloppiness to get to the show, to display full picture of what I’m producing, and each day carries a new emotion with it. It's easy to love and to hate the process.

But, much of the main message from this book, we can choose how we embrace the process. Choose to love it. Love the work, do it or find another way to create and enjoy your life.

I’m determined to finish this first larger piece of work and just naive enough to believe it will all turn out the way it should.

Connected Home

August 23rd, 2015 in Digital Storytelling


We are now on our way to a more connected home, thanks to my boyfriend Marc. We have a Canary downstairs, no not the delightful little bird but a dainty camera that watches you. I do like its design. It’s for security though Marc has been using it to check in on the dog.

“Look she’s moving,” he says.

I’d rather not know what she does the eight hours we are away. The dog is kept in a square, cold tiled and empty laundry room with a few windows of entertainment.

Next it will be the doors. He’s already investigating mobile locks.

Maybe next the fridge or the frying pan to measure what’s too hot or too cold. Don’t you know the perfect temperature? Are you really standing their grazing, looking inside the fridge when you just ate? An alarm will sound. You will be notified immediately.

Again and again till every nook and crannie can be examined like we are playing doctor with our own home, our own lives, all up for display.

“I have measured my life in tea spoons,” the great T. S. Eliot once said. Could he imagine? The tea spoon talked back, “Yes, that’s three cups of tea and two cups on a bad day, seventy two thousand teaspoons of sugar per lifetime.”

What does it all add up to?

I walk past the canary. It is almost unnoticeable except I know that it’s there. I can’t swear or curse or say anything with anger because it’s listening. Someone is listening waiting to examine, to explain and tell me what I may not want to know.

The Story of Billy the Story

July 19th, 2015 in Digital Storytelling

There once was a man named Billy. Billy was born an idea: he was a story. He knew he needed to get out on a stage for the world and all of his short life he prepared and he prepared for his life’s big show.

It took him years to grow enough, to find the right voice deeper and now much more full of wisdom. He was ready, tall and older and filled with a grand old tale.

He would perform a few shows before the light at the top took him away for another time.

But now there is no billy, so grown and so wise. When Billy is born next there are lights every, photos and screens and videos to stretch billy out. They each take away a piece of his story. They each ask for his focus. His attention is withered and his eyes cannot surprise this crowd.

He rushes on stage just a few years of age, quickly sharing a brief moment that they can capture together, before all of the pieces are gone, and Billy is gone too.

It is such a shame he will say. The life of a story has gone far away. He will hope for a deeper, longer day where good and evil battle again, and wisdom rises for more than just a few moments of one’s time. He longs to grow and live and love but here he on this stage he cannot stay.

About Me

Amanda Lewan - Digital StorytellerOn a mission to inspire others with storytelling. Digital stories and cultural insights included. Read more about me.

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