From Kate’s Writing Crate…
As a reader, I always love finding books that appeal to me. As a writer, I am twice as pleased when the authors also provide masterclasses within their books.
Masterclasses take place when performance artists and musicians work one-on-one with students. Writers don’t generally have this option, but I have found some books to be masterclasses for characters, backstories, plots, settings, voice and/or creativity.
Richard Bach has written about two dozen books, most of which I’ve enjoyed, but my favorite is Running from Safety: An Adventure of the Spirit.
From the back cover: If the child-we-were asked us today for the best we’ve learned from living, what would we tell, and what would we discover in return?
How would you answer?
If you take this up as a writing prompt, it’s an enlightening experience. You might want to set aside an entire notebook or two to complete it.
In Running from Safety, Richard Bach has written a first-person mystical tale where the child he was is a 10-year-old character named Dickie. Together they reminisce, argue, discuss, agree and disagree about the past, present, and future. Richard is astonished to discover what he has forgotten or rewritten in his mind about his childhood.
As he considers Dickie’s observations and questions, both mundane and profound, he defends and explains himself. Even if the questions are painful, the child demands honesty. Bach's soul-searching answers contain mind-expanding wisdom.
The insights shared include:
“…Childhood was not something I was much trained to treasure. The point was to get through it. Learn as much as you can along the way, but hunch in, hold your breath, coast down that long powerless hill of dependence till you’re rolling fast enough to pop the clutch and start your engine on your own.” (page 49)
…Never had I understood that I command, with absolute authority, the ship of my life! I decide its mission and rules and discipline…I’m master of a team of passionate skills to sail me through hell’s own jaws the second I nod the direction to steer. (page 106)
“Like attracts like. It’ll surprise you as long as you live. Choose a love and work to make it true, and somehow something will happen, something you couldn’t plan, will come along to move like to like, to set you loose, to set you on the way…” (page 204)
No! I thought. Don’t tell me that my security comes from somebody else! Tell me I’m responsible. Tell me security is a by-product of the gift I give of my skill and my learning and my love into the world. Tell me security comes from an idea given time and care. I claim this for my truth, no matter how many stable solid paychecks might come from the Accounting Department…Dear God, I thought, don’t give me a job, give me ideas, and let me take it from there! (page 214)
“…We build our personal world calm or wild according to what we want to live. We can weave utter peace in the midst of chaos. We can destroy in the midst of paradise. Depends on how we shape our spirit.” (page 222)
“Marriage is like nothing else you’ll ever live…brought together by miraculous magnetizing, found by incredible coincidence, soulmates discovered in the mystery of romance, you still have to work out problems together. Fascinating problems, it’s true, spicy tests lasting year after year, but lose romance and you lose the power to go on through hard times… (page 261)
“Everything in the world of my consciousness, which is the only world that exists for me on earth, gets there through my consent…” (page 274)
“…What matters, though, is how I use what I know every minute of every day; how I use it to remember… (Page 311-312)
Running from Safety is one of the books I reread every few years because I get more out of it each time I consider Bach’s thoughts:
How come we don’t know the answers until we find the question[s]… (page 140)
“…You don’t want a million answers as much you want a few forever questions. The questions are diamonds you hold in the light. Study a lifetime and you see different colors from the same jewel. The same questions, asked again, bring you just the answers you need just the minute you need them.” (page 141)
Who couldn’t use those questions?