One of the reasons I write is for the sheer surprise of it all. The work never turns out the way I think it will. I noticed this for the first time several years ago when I had returned to school and was given an assignment. We were to read an academic work, report on it, and then “re-vision” it, which meant writing the essence of the work in a different way. I had chosen a book of philosophical arguments made by astrophysicists about the existence of God.
Yeah, I know. I’m a geek.
Anyway, as I re-visioned the work, I imagined writing some lofty spiritual tome to counteract the often-atheistic conclusions of the scientists. I had drafted the work and was rereading it when one little sentence caught my eye, a sentence that changed everything. I had mentioned, almost in passing, that there were no female astrophysicists quoted in the book. I did a little research and learned about several women who had made exciting and substantial contributions to the field. I learned about them and their beliefs, then wrote an imaginary dialogue. It turned out to be a lot of fun…because I was willing to be surprised and to follow an unexpected, tantalizing thread.
Now I’m having the experience again. I’ve been working on Exodus (a short-hand, working title), which includes essays and weekly meditations. Only they’re not meditations anymore, because I find that people get freaked out about meditating. Now they’re musings, which–I hope–creates a more playful, relaxed, innovative environment for people. The whole book is taking on a much more playful tone. This feels a bit odd, since a story of plagues, death, and Charlton Heston as a grand and magnificent Moses seems hardly the fodder for childlike explorations. But I’m going to follow it and see where it leads. Why not?