Narrative S.P.O.F.s

I have a sweet setup. When I don’t want to write, when the thought of making the abstract concrete fills me with dread and terror, when saying what I think feels like an impossible task, I switch. I stop thinking about myself and think about the handful of people I write for. Their presence helps me navigate the quagmire in my mind and do the work. And in the rare moments that I wish away my audience, in which I bemoan them for implicitly imposing an obligation upon me, I switch. I recall how good it feels to put words down. I remind myself that I can write things that I am incapable of speaking aloud. I recall instances of transformation, both micro and macro, brought about by my practice of the writing craft. 

When it comes to writing, I don’t have a narrative S.P.O.F., a single point of failure. When I can’t write for myself, I write for my audience, and when I can’t write for my audience, I write for myself.

This strategy—the avoidance of narrative S.P.O.Fs—can be useful elsewhere. Consider the plight of someone whose sole interpretation of the world arrives via religion. When religion is stripped from them, they are naked, exposed, unable to process the reality they inhabit. But imagine that, in a contradictory manner, they are also able to interpret the world in scientific terms. Suddenly a loss of faith in religion is not catastrophic for they can lean into science. And if they become disillusioned with science? They can revert back to religion.

It’s an approach riddled with falsity, with confusion, with contradiction, but it works. Half-belief in multiple things is more robust than full belief in a single system. The former is devoid of a single point of failure. When one narrative fails, others can take the weight, hold you steady. The latter? When that goes down, there’s trouble.