Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Inciting Event

On June 14th of this year I received two phone calls. Both came via Bluetooth while I was driving. I answered the first during morning peak hour traffic and the second on a gravel road on my community nurse circuit. Not good momets to receive unnerving news.

The first came from the hospital informing me that the surgery I was scheduled to have at some time in the unknown future, would occur early in the following week. The surgery was major and should improve my quality of life but came with a catch. I would have to learn to live with an inconvenient medical condition afterward. My lifestyle was about to change, never to be the same.

The second was my employer asking myself, along with my small team of colleagues, to meet to discuss our contract. With 2 weeks to go before the end of the financial year, and with the contract due to expire, my reaction was immediate anxiety.

Fiction writers refer to this point in the creation of a novel as the 'Midpoint', or even the 'Second Inciting Event.' Everything up to that moment is 'Back story'. I like awarding winning K.M. Weiland's description so I will quote her directly:

'Like the first inciting event, it directly influences the plot. It changes the paradigm of the story. And it requires a definitive and story-altering response from the characters. The largest difference is that the character’s response is no longer just a reaction, but the moment at which he begins to definitively take charge of the story and act out against the antagonistic force.' 

There is one vital difference between the plot in a novel, and the plot of our lives. We are not the author. And we have no idea of the Resolution, potential twists and definitely not The End.
We are the story. And we are in the hands of the best known Author of all time.

The outcome of the first phone call was a straight forward surgical procedure. The Conflict was over. Except that as writers we know that resolving the Conflict at this point in this story will result in the reader skipping a few chapters out of boredom. So He threw in a complication.

In less than a week I was back in hospital with a major, and potentially life threatening, complication. I say, potentially because this was my first moment of grace. In Australia we have an amazing health care system that can diagnose and if not cure, at least manage, almost every possible health scenario.

A few days later I was discharged and on my way to recovery. Boring! Why not throw in another couple of 'thorns'? Back to work sooner than anticipated I got stuck into the pile of work that had grown steadily in my absence. However, living with this medical nuisance wasn’t as easy as everyone said it would be. And once again, thanks to our great health care system, we discovered the cause of the problem, found a solution and off I went, back to the daily routine.

This couldnt have happend without a second moment of grace. My work colleagues were amazing. They did what they could to support me as I adjusted physically and emotionally and for that I will be forever grateful.

Omega Christian Writers Conference Blue Mountains

The second point of conflict was the threat of unemployment. The first moment of grace for that conflict arrived in the form of a small reprieve. The contract was not due to expire at the end of that financial year, but the next. An improvement, but not ideal. But who likes a boring story?  As Welland states above, the midpoint is the moment when the main character takes control of their life.

A new career pathway had already begun to unfold before all this had happened. It was time to give it a kick along. Once again, the story is too boring if the problems go away too soon. I won't bore you with the subsequent details except to say that the result is that I now have a new job, in the field that I was working towards anyway.

So what has this to do with writing? That is a story in itself and I'll leave you longing for the sequel. The only teaser I will give here is that at the recent Christian Writers Conference in the stunning Blue Mountains I experienced another Inciting Event...

8 comments:

  1. That was a great post Susanne. You certainly grabbed my interest all the way through. I am very sorry it has been a difficult year for you with some life altering changes. Not easy to go through so well done for conquering those tough mountains. Love the picture of you taken at conference. I sure hope the next inciteful event was one that was appealing. Congratulations on your new job. May I ask you what it is? I wish you well in this new season. I love the way you tied up your own journey in story form. :) Blessings Susanne and may the Author of life continue to challenge you and lead you to breathtaking heights in your journey!

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    1. Thanks Anusha, my job is as nurse educator which is a huge shift from child protection - I have been working a little for the Uni and this more permanent. The conference event...I'll fill you in as it unfolds. xx

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  2. Shared like a true writer Susanne. Reality is so often a better story than fiction and there are always things to be learned about both. I hope there are good resolutions to your real problems.

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    1. Thanks Carol, yes real life is full of stories just waiting to be told...and thankfully we have a God we can trust with our life. Susan

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  3. Great post, Susanne. I often think of Jesus as the author and perfecter of our faith. Sometimes I wish there weren't so many plot twists involved in the process. I'm sorry it's been a tough year for you but glad that things are looking up. But like any good writer you have left me feeling intrigued and wanting more. God bless.

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    1. Thanks Sue, the Conference was a great opportunity to reflect on new writing possibilities so I'll share what happens as it unfolds!

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  4. Really enjoyed reading your post, Suzanne--and I love the photo! And now I'm waiting to hear that next exciting instalment and all about what happened to you at the writers' conference where we just didn't get time to chat as I hoped we would. Not that we didn't try, especially at that meal table where we both ended up being relocated!

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    1. That meal table fiasco was so funny! (Sorry to other readers, you had to be at the table to know) but it did mean that I met another lovely lady. It was great to see you - and other familiar faces. Susan x

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