Monday Writing Motivation: Endless Puzzle of the Heart

 In How to write a book, Monday Motivation, Richard Beynon's blog

Whenever I read something that moves me, inspires me, or reminds me of the fact that all lives are messes and that therefore mine is no exception, I feel proud to be a writer contributing in some small way to the body of writing that together makes up a joint – if often disjointed – account of what it means to be human. Today’s Monday Writing Motivation: the endless puzzle of the heart delves deeper into those thoughts.

Every story is a fragment of a giant mosaic, or a thread in an endless tapestry, that helps make sense of life on earth. No single perspective is enough – which is why I don’t believe in the dream of “the great American novel,” which seems to promise a summation of what it means to be American (or English, or Lithuanian or …)

Monday Writing Motivation: Endless Puzzle of the Heart

If I could channel Jorge Luis Borges, I would have him write a story about an assembler of jigsaw puzzles (one of many such) busy putting together the pieces of a literally infinite jigsaw puzzle. I confess myself defeated by a puzzle Trish once gave me consisting of 5,000 pieces. But this imaginary puzzle would have trillions of pieces. Even as the assembler slowly matches piece to piece, and derives the satisfaction we have all experienced of seeing the house emerge beside the thicket, the bridge above the river, the skyscraper point its stubby finger toward heaven. At the margins of the puzzle,  puzzle manufacturers would be creating new vistas and then, as rapidly,  disassembling the pieces and leaving them in heaps for the man in the middle to tackle.

Writers are the assemblers of the puzzle that is our world. They constitute a company of dreamers who forever strive for the impossible. They’re aware that they only ever achieve local success. Their stories are for the most part time-bound. Very few of their tales achieve anything approximating even moderate immortality. They’re also often bound by geography. What works for readers in this corner of the world doesn’t for readers in that.

And yet limited though the salience of their work is, it is, nevertheless, I believe, as important a tool in understanding the workings of the human heart as quantum physics is to an understanding of the physical universe. Writing continues to be an endless puzzle of the heart that writers yearn to explore.

We work away at our tablets describing a confrontation between brothers each infected with a common desire to outwit the other. Or the agony of a child wondering whether to tell her mother about the nightmare she’s had about an ogre who looked just like daddy. Or the quiet exultation of an old man who, months or weeks from death, succeeds in piecing together a last coherent memory of the woman he’d loved and lost decades before.

We know that the ever-expanding universe will forever frustrate our efforts to define it. But it’s enough to capture the truth of a moment, a flash of insight, an impulse to love.

I feel proud to be a member, however humble, of this company – and so should we all.

Happy writing,


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