JK: Finding the Cure for Cancer
A friend of ours is losing her twelve year battle with cancer and soon her life will end. “I know I’m not doing anything to cure cancer,” I told a friend of mine and I went on to explain how others were making bigger marks in this world I thought, than mine. Their efforts might one day bring about relief from terrible suffering while I write stories. Little stories that some people won’t read because “they aren’t even true.”
Now Frederick Buechner, theologian and novelist, has given me a new way to look at truth inside story. He noted in his book Secrets in the Dark, A Life in Sermons, that fiction, from the word meaning to imagine, feign, or shape, is not true the way a photograph is true. But it can be true the way a portrait is, where one sees more than just the rendering of what is. With a great portrait we see something of the artist as well as a depth of the subject that we might otherwise miss. His words give me a little more room to appreciate rather than discount my efforts as a novelist over someone writing non-fiction, for example. But I still hung onto my wish that I did something truly important in the world instead of just “writing stories.”
My friend didn’t join in my whine. “We are all writing the human story,” she said, “when we do what we feel called to do. You do what you can to ease suffering through your stories and the scientist does what she can to find that elusive cure. Together the human story gets written, revised, expanded.”
Some of us have stories not yet published; yet we are authentic when we listen to that inner voice and write even if we don’t that day see the results that we think should. Perhaps because I spent this past hour writing I will be more compassionate toward my husband as he suffers with a bad back. Perhaps as you took time to finish that chapter or sent out that proposal you’ll be more aware of the dullness in a neighbor’s eyes and thus take time to ask what you can do to be of help. We are all writing the human story when we pay attention to our own.
My friend went on to remind me that it takes imagination to bring about innovation and imagination is from the right brain that works quite well with those predominately left brain scientists. Together, each of us doing what we think we’re supposed to be doing, together perhaps we’ll find that cancer cure.
Jane Kirkpatrick, http://www.jkbooks.com/
Award-winning author of 12 novels and two non-fiction books. A Clearing in the Wild, Book One of the Change and Cherish Series (WaterBrook Press/Random House) is available now!