The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Price Paid in Advance

Yesterday, I was working on one of the exercises for the upcoming Path workshop.  It consists of writing out my own obituary.  This symbolizes a sense of rounding to life…there is birth, and there is death.

In-between those critical moments is the passage known to us as life.  What will we do with it?  What do we want to accomplish?  Leave behind?  What contribution to the world do we care to make?  What lives will we touch, and how did we touch them?  What did we make of the miraculous body we are given?  What friends did we make, and what of the family we built?

These and other questions are central to the creation of what I call the “Life Story.”

For writers, understanding the scope of our life dreams, and the prices that we are prepared to bring them into reality, is essential.  How can you write about a character’s hopes and dreams if you are not in touch with your own?  Simple: you can’t.

Why not try this incredible exercise yourself, over the next week?  Just write your life story, from today until the day you die.  It can be in any form you want, and doesn’t have to be longer than one page.  It does, however, need to cover the three most basic arenas:

1) Career
2) Health and Fitness
3) Primary relationship and family.

Look at it carefully—does it contain implications of the price you are prepared to pay for what you want?  Remember: there is a price for everything you want in life.  And the price is always paid in advance.

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