This week I’ll finish the second half of my training in basic mediation. The experience so far has forced me to examine some of my hitherto subterranean assumptions about conflict, motivation, communication . . . and my writing. As a result, I’m currently working on an idea that remains woefully incomplete, but that might interest the ‘Rati.
The role of mediators is to help people in conflict come to mutually acceptable solutions. If mediators are good at their job, those solutions are generated by the “disputants” themselves. Whatever the mediators think of the individuals involved, the goals remain the same. Basically, mediators are the guardians of a process; they hold it foremost in their actions and words to create a space of trust and hope, so that the conflicting parties can move forward from their seemingly stuck positions. The mediators’ fundamental stance is one of respect for their clients and a belief that the clients can come to solutions.
Some writers do this too. They honor the process of writing to the point where they spend their time discovering “what their characters want to do” within the story to make it whole. They may guide the process, but give the characters permission to expand beyond what may be been first planned.
Other writers are more like architects. From the moment they begin thinking about a story and their characters, each component is defined and part of a sound structure that might, possibly, be flexible enough to withstand high winds, but that already has shape before the first word is typed.
Freeform writers don’t dare have a goal — unlike mediators who absolutely do — and just want to explore, explore, explore. They may go back and polish or change after the fact, but their initial approach is all about the discovery.
Are there other predictable writing stances?
Egoists? Do they think their stories and characters are all about them?
Sadists? Do they put their characters into impossible situations just to see them suffer?
Masochists? Do they kill off beloved characters and cringe during the entire writing of the story?
Bosses? Are there a group of writers that demand their characters work hard and get the job done efficiently?
I don’t know! I’m just playing with an idea: Do writers have predictable approaches to their writing? And, if so, do readers sense these fundamental stances and, unconsciously, select the ones that are most copacetic with their own fundamental life stances?
What do you think?