This post was inspired by some irony. Irony about the fact that after blogging A novel metaphor for life, when I felt I’d achieved a breakthrough working on my long-awaited debut novel and was convinced it was symbolic of breakthrough in the way I see and approach my life, I haven’t really progressed at all on the aforementioned novel.

I did, however, realise, that one of the greatest problems I have is that I complicate things, even when I start simple. In my current novel plan, I managed to nut out the storyline from beginning to end. I used to never get to the point because I would get bogged down in details about personality or the location or the context and history of this, that and the other, and about all of that making logical sense as a whole. I thought I avoided that trap this time, but what’s happened is that having nailed down a coherent plot, I’ve now proceeded to overthink it and question the plausibility of this, that and the other.

It’s the same with life.

Complexity and complicatedness fascinate me in theory (O, Academia!) but they frustrate me like crazy in practical terms, in real life. I get the sense this gets in the way of actually doing stuff. I have to keep reminding myself there isn’t always just the one “right” way forward because there are often several good options and God can work through all of them. There isn’t always much point in trying to measure up the different factors in order to make the best decision.

Notebook of novel ideas and planning
Yes, this is the notebook I’m using to brainstorm my novel. Yes, it says “WEAREDINOSAURS!” in the top left hand corner. Yes, I’m pretty sure that’s a toothy brontosaurus.

In that particular blog, I also said:

I don’t want my life to be a series of short-term projects as different expressions of my faith. That’s not such a bad idea, really – but I would much rather each stage of my life be a tight, effective, fluff-free, chapter that builds into the next, with later chapters seeing the fruit of preliminary chapters, and all of them forming one Great Story, not just a pretty mosaic or collage.

Now then, what’s the problem with this?

Nothing … except that in the novel of my life, I am not the Author.

I’ve realised that having faith is in part about believing that however “short-term” some of what I’m involved in is, all of it is part of His narrative – it’s not just for my own life, it’s about the whole universe. My life is a thread He is weaving into others (like a Tapestry, right?). I’m a character who has the blessing of knowing the end of the story, but I’m often clueless as to what happens in between. I can see a trajectory forming as I look back on the past, but from where I’m standing, there isn’t one, inevitable, future.

And really, it’s just as well I’m not the author of my own life – because, after all, I have this tendency to complicate things. Life doesn’t need any more of that.

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