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The power of love to fuel our writing
Writing from a place of love
Writing from a place of love
One of the most important things I have come to realise over the past several years is that what this human experience is really all about is love. When we look around at the world we have created for ourselves, at the war, environmental destruction and general discord and competitiveness among people, it can sometimes seem hard to believe that, but I really do think it is true.
I just think many people have forgotten that love is the thing that really matters. We're programmed from birth to believe that life on this planet is about survival of the fittest, which is not a message that fosters too much love. It's also one that many scientists, philosophers and spiritual leaders believe to be untrue and that in fact life on this planet is all about compassion and collaboration.
I am currently doing a course with the mindfulness and meditation teacher, Tara Brach, and when each workshop arrives in my inbox it features a quote. I wanted to share this one with you:
If our hearts are ready for anything, we are touched by the beauty and poetry and mystery that fill our world. We find our true refuge in every moment, in every breath. We are happy for no reason.
I believe that if we open our hearts in this way and write our stories stemming from this, then what appears on the page will be writing that really means something to us as we write and edit it, and to the people that then go on to read it. It can be hard and scary to open our hearts - I was frightened to do it for a long time. But when I did, everything in my life got better.
I started to write with no goals, no fear of what people would think, and to embrace the mystery and beauty and poetry of our world, and my writing changed completely.
Although I don't write and submit as often anymore, the last two stories that I had published were written from this place of open-heartedness. They are completely different to anything I have had published before and one of them has earned me my first nomination for an award, Best Small Fictions. Whether or not it gets anywhere remains to be seen and I can happily say that I have no attachment to the outcome of that, I'm just honoured to have been nominated and so pleased that my new way of writing is resonating with people.
I am currently working on two short stories, both of which have magical realism elements. I would never have written like this before but they are some of the most honest and, I believe, best, stories I have ever written. At their heart, they are both about love. Not romantic love but love for ourselves, our planet, other people and creatures, and for the amazing gift of being alive.
Lots of the stories I read at Retreat West have the conflict needed to drive the story forward but many of them are lacking love. As stories are essentially built on conflict, it can seem hard to bring love into them. But the conflicts in our stories can be ones that ultimately bring more love to our characters lives. Like in this one by Chris Cottom, Button Bus, which won the 2021 Retreat West Flash Fiction Prize.
The narrator has the conflict of needing to do what his bosses want and meet his targets, but love wins the day as he abandons that after meeting the old lady who catches his bus.
I have been watching a Netflix comedy series recently, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which is about a group of detectives in New York. Although the crimes they have to solve are mostly horrible, over the course of the six seasons I have watched so far I have come to realise that this show, too, is all about love. The love the characters share has grown throughout each series as they go through good and bad times together, and all they do for each other comes from a place of open-heartedness, while at the same time being really funny and silly. It's great writing, acting and directing and I highly recommend it!
Have you been watching or reading anything that is all about love? Do let me know as I'm always interested in finding more lovely things.
If anything that I am saying here resonates with you then try this writing prompt to bring more love into your stories.
Spend 10-15 minutes writing down all the things that love means to you and all the different things that people can and do love. Don't overthink it, just let your thoughts pour onto the page. Then leave the list alone for a while. When you go back to it, pick three elements that jump out at you and use them to build a character and story around.
PS. I am delighted to have my first paid subscriber for my Substack! I’m so happy that people are interested in my words. My first paid post will be coming soon…