Wednesday, September 12, 2012

All That Matters Is That I'm Telling This Story

"Every choice you have ever made, Toshar, has led to this moment. Your moment."
~ The MoonQuest: A True Fantasy (The Q'ntana Trilogy, Book I)

There's a chapter in Acts of Surrender: A Writer's Memoir that chronicles a bleak period in my life. It was late 2008. My finances had crashed and I had taken a physically demanding, poorly paying job that would be unlikely to save me from losing both home and car. Then one day, in the midst of my panic and despair, I had an aha. I realized that none of those external circumstances mattered. All that mattered was The StarQuest, the MoonQuest sequel that I had launched and aborted twice during the previous decade. All that mattered was that I set my situation aside and recommit to the novel, which I did. I titled the memoir chapter "All That Matters Is That I’m Writing."

I thought about that chapter a few mornings ago during a meditative stroll through the Rio Grande bosque. I had felt the need to escape the relentlessly scrubby desert near my home and to surround myself instead with the leafy cottonwoods and willow thickets that fill out the riverbank. Perhaps the rustling trees would speak over my anxieties. Perhaps the rippling water would calm my fears.

God knows, I needed some fresh voices. Since agreeing to direct The Q'ntana Trilogy Movies last month, I had teetered between excitement and angst, exhilaration and terror. Part of me acknowledged the perfection in this new role -- both for the stories and for me. Another part, its buttons pushed multiple times a day, was shrouded in doubt and overwhelm. The emotional teeter-totter was dizzying!

As I ambled through the woods, those fresh voices spoke to me with the same unequivocal clarity they had done four years earlier. It wasn't about writing this time. I had written what needed writing: novel and screenplay versions of all three Q'ntana tales (The MoonQuest, The StarQuest and The SunQuest). In fact, I had completed all drafts of both versions of The StarQuest and The SunQuest in a frenzy of unprecedented -- for me -- creative output: through an 18-month period during which I also finished and e-published Acts of Surrender.

No. Writing wasn't the issue. But the story was. The Q'ntana story. "All that matters," I heard from a deep inner place, "is that you are telling this story."

A film director, I realized when I first contemplated taking on this new role, is also a storyteller. And as I wrote a few weeks ago in "Taking Storytelling to its Next Level," the Q'ntana story is a story that not only wants to be told by me in this as in its previous forms, but that is insisting it be told by me.

As has happened so often in my life, and as I relate repeatedly in Acts of Surrender, that Infinite Mind within me that is wiser than my conscious mind ever could be has made my next steps clear to me, and I have no choice but to surrender if I am to live from my heart...if I am to step up into my potential...if I am to be true to everything I write and teach.

"This is your story to tell," that inner voice continued, in an echo of the opening scene of The MoonQuest book and film. "Only yours to tell."

Arguing was futile.

"No one else has lived these stories as you have. No one else carries the vision for these stories that you do. No one else can bring these stories to life the way you can. No one else."

It didn't matter that I had never directed a film before. I had also never written a novel before tackling The MoonQuest. I would learn what I needed to learn. Others would help and support me. And everything I had ever done -- writing, teaching, coaching, inspirational speaking, art and photography -- had already prepared me for this moment, this opportunity.

"You already carry much of what you need within you. Can you trust that?"

Could I? Could I trust the intuitive knowingness that had always guided me so powerfully and rightly in the past?

"This is different," I said, knowing it wasn't.

"You either trust or you do not. There is no halfway in between." Those words had followed me relentlessly since I first penned them in The MoonQuest. They were still true.

As I continued on my walk, I wondered what the Q'ntana stories' theme was. Of course, I had written the stories, but I don't write to a theme. I allow a theme, as I do the story itself, to emerge organically through the writing. I had never contemplated an overarching theme for the trilogy. Now, though, as its director, it would be useful to be aware of one. A moment later, my inner voice spoke again: "When you acknowledge and move through your fear, you can accomplish great things -- for yourself and for others."

This was not only The Q'ntana Trilogy's theme, it was mine -- has been mine since a spiritual awakening two decades ago made me aware of the fears that, until then, had paralyzed me. Of course, this was my story, and not only because I had written it. And, of course, it was mine to tell...and would be until all the ways of telling it had been exhausted.

As I left river and bosque behind, I knew that, once again, nothing else mattered. In 2008, I had been called to surrender to my writerly self through The StarQuest. Now, only the Q'ntana story mattered. Only the Q'ntana film mattered.

Today, as I pen these words, I know that it cannot matter that, in some ways, my life is even more on the edge that it was four years ago. What matters is that I surrender to the story -- my story -- and that I free myself to grow into all that I can become through this new Q'ntana journey.

All that matters is that I am telling this story.

Photos by Mark David Gerson: Rio Grande Nature Center State Park, Albuquerque, NM. Q'ntana film posters by Richard Crookes.

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Karen Walker said...

Chills here, Mark David. Such a powerful post. And one that speaks to me and my fears as well.

Mark David Gerson said...

Thanks, Karen. There's only way...and that's forward...

Sun Singer said...

Intuitively, I believe that all that matters is telling the story. I never know where my stories are going when I start them, for I follow them like newly discovered streams. Since the stories always lead me somewhere, I have confidence in them, as well as confidence that telling them matters.

In daily life, logic intrudes. My logic tells me that a novel may take years to find a publisher and, if it does, years to find an audience. Meanwhile, there are always the unpleasant real-world realities of bills to pay now. A novel or story that might make money in the future doesn't cover the needs of the moment.

So, in spite of my confidence in the value of a story or in my need to tell it, I'm often pulled away from storytelling into real-time practical solutions that pay today's bills and put food on the table tomorrow.

Now, if I could only take the magic of story and apply it to the demands for money I find in the mailbox!

Strong post, and a very helpful one.


Sandi Sakowski said...

I love the way that you write...this was awesome!!! I posted a comment on Amy Robbins Wilson's post about this article...I just love it!!!

Mark David Gerson said...

Thanks, Sandi. Much appreciated!