For the past six months I’ve been playing a geographical game of pong (Atari, not College). From Los Angeles to Canada then Haiti and LA and Canada again followed by Iowa and Haiti, scribing in my path an isosceles triangle spanning more that 2,500 miles on each side.
I’ve drove, flown, motorcycled, boarded, biked, hiked, and swam my way around a tiny cross section of a globe which is so big that some still argue about it being flat.
I actually started this draft months ago, coming back every four weeks to add another sentence. I started just with that Idea of what my path has looked like, how many miles i’ve covered, but after that the story didn’t seem to go anywhere. I had a bunch of little stories and experiences, but none of them seemed to bind together.
In story, every single sentence needs to contribute to the plot. You can’t just throw in a setting or an adventure because it is cool. The best movies are ones where you can pause on any single frame and describe why the character is dong what he is doing.
So, as I kept finding myself coming back to this random untitled draft, and each time I looked at the miles, trying to figure out what they were all about. And every time I couldn’t exactly put my finger on it, the miles seemed empty.
But good resolution takes time. And I know the plot is advancing because I can feel the character development. Just merely by the fact that I’m finishing this untitled draft proves character development. And I’m taking this literary parallel too far, so let’s go back to the Atari thing.
So, I’m finally able to finish this draft because I realized something: It’s not our job. If my travels have been like pong, then my life has been more like Brickbreaker. Here we are, this little ball, flying around a small 2D space (not going to get into the flat-earth thing again). All we have control of is bouncing back up off the bottom of the screen and taking out whatever obstacle is placed before us.
Sometimes it’s a grind, sometimes it’s incredible, sometimes you’ll feel successful when you’re not. Sometimes you’ll feel like a failure when you’re successful. But you don’t live to beat the level, you live to take on each individual brick.
I still don’t know what’s the big picture within the surface are of all this living, I’m not so sure it’s our job to. As long as we’re taking the trip, going on that adventure, writing the book, seeking the girl, and eventually finding our way around to finishing the draft, we’re playing a good game.