Thursday, February 15, 2007

Growing Your Own Tale

I arrived in Portland, Oregon late last night and felt right at home. The weather here in the Pacific Northwest is nearly identical to eastern Tennessee at this time of year and I was glad to see they had drizzle awaiting me so that I would feel even more welcomed.

The culture here is a bit different though, than East Tennessee culture. Instead of barbecue joints lining the streets, you find vegan restaurants. Instead of pick-up trucks, everyone is driving a mountain bike. And instead of finding a church on every corner, you find a microbrewery. To be honest, as much as I love Tennessee, I think I fit right in up here.

It's been a great day speaking at Warner-Pacific College, sharing at chapel, having lunch with some of the students, and teaching a seminar on writing and story craft. As a result of all this I've been thinking a lot about story today – both the shape of a good tale and the movement of a character through the struggle to a discovery and a transformed life.

Here are a few of the points that have been churning around in my brain:
  1. Stories are not lists of events, they are transformative experiences. Every good story pivots on a struggle and a discovery that we, the audience, can identify with.
  2. When God chose to reveal himself to us, he didn't do it by giving us a set of facts but a pack of stories. And even his story, the story of redemption, pivots on the human struggle to find meaning and hope in our splintered world, and the discovery that grace is available from above.
  3. When we study the stories in the Bible it isn't to find the main point, but to enter the story God is telling our world. By identifying with the struggles of the characters in the Bible we can learn with them what it means to be drawn closer to God.
I was able to rethink a few stories from scripture and draw out truths I'd never noticed before. I'll try to share them in the coming week. The excitement and passion of the students here is inspiring. They make me want to dive deeper into the stories I'm writing and the one I'm living. Thanks WP! It's been a great trip.


Anonymous said...

I just found this blog through your website and I am excited to read it. I just picked up 'story' tonight and reading the first few parts of the book I felt my mind coming alive to a creative imagination. I am excited to read more....

Traci said...

Bet they don't have a museum shaped like a giant guitar. ;)

Glen Woods said...

No, but we do have a Church of Elvis:)


Glen Woods

Panda said...

Hi Steven,
I just want to let you know that I really like your book Story! In fact, we liked it so much that we decided to publish the Dutch edition at Ark Boeken in Amsterdam where I work as a publisher... You can have a look at the cover of your book at our website The Dutch title means 'Captured by the Mystery'. Of course we will also read your book 'Sailing between the stars'. Keep up the good work! Blessings from the Netherlands, Paul Abspoel

Panda said...

Man! We do have some things in common. Not just the host, the template and background colour of our blogs (pure coincidence), but I also cherish my copy of Kierkegaard's Provocations from Plough Publishing and Wisdom of the Sadhu (I even published the Dutch edition of that book!)