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Of Being and Becoming

Of Being and Becoming

Wampus Multimedia publisher Mark Doyon once described my first novel Believe in Me as “a tale of being and becoming,” a phrase of such piercing power and insight that it still rattles around my brainpan on the regular a dozen years later. I didn’t recognize that’s what that story was about until Mark helped me to see it.

The thing about “being and becoming”—that process of progressing from your old self toward a newer and possibly (hopefully) improved version—is that, with luck, you never stop doing it. Humans are meant to evolve and become several versions of ourselves between the starting line and the finish.

For a goal-oriented person (ahem), this can be hard to accept. “Hey, I completed that goal! That means I’ve achieved what I set out to achieve! Everything is great now and all the problems have been solved!” Which is of course utter, fantastical bullshit. You’ve solved one problem: the problem of finishing the thing you started. Everything else? Still there. It isn’t even that one cycle of change has finished and another has begun; it’s all one big, continuous cycle that never finishes, until you do.

This appears to be a lesson that I am destined to learn over and over again, which suggests either a learning disability, a penchant for self-deception, or a cavernous stubborn streak; let’s just say that I’m pretty sure it’s not the first one.

A few weeks ago I finished the initial draft of a new novel. As I approached the end, I experienced a familiar yet dizzying swirl of emotions. Glee and triumph at the prospect of completing a considerable task—this particular story required quite a bit of research, much of it challenging both intellectually and emotionally—but also melancholy. When you finish telling a story, you finish living inside that world, one for which you’ve hopefully developed a genuine passion. You build a world, inhabit it for an intense period of creation—and then walk away and leave it behind.

I’m still grappling with all of the above as I prepare to return to that world again for another go at carving the story into its final form. There’s work to do, but it’s a different kind of work, using different muscles; at this stage it’s more fixing and polishing than imagining and creating. It requires viewing the work with less emotion and more discernment, even as the story itself continues tugging at me, trying to pull me back in.

One thing I do know is that telling this story has changed me, again. I’m the same, but also different. The process of being and becoming carries on, echoing down the years, much like—I can only hope—the story I’m telling may one day.

Comment (1)

  • Greg

    Jason, All so true with the spurts or recognition of the self improvements or maybe a nicer me. When they are recognized they are pleasant, and of course, why didn’t I see this years ago. Lately the frequency has picked up.

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