Compass And Guns (Why I Write)

Compass and guns.

I guess in two words that’s what I’m going for.

I’ll share this secret, just between us here on this blog that anybody can see but that most probably don’t pay much attention to.

I’ll tell you exactly the spirit that I’m going for in every single one of my stories.

EVERY one of them.

It’s compass and guns.

Does that ring a bell? Anybody?

I’m sure it does.

It’s a poignant scene in the powerful movie The Shawshank Redemption. I’m sure you know it. The one where Morgan Freeman (who’s never been better) goes to a field to fulfill a promise to his fellow prison mate, a man named Andy Dufresne who was wrongly imprisoned and finally escaped. What he finds there . . . well, you know, right? He finds cash and a letter.

But really, truly, what he finds is this . . .


That’s the whole point of that story and that movie. Written so well by Stephen King. Filmed so well by Frank Darabont.

Why do people say time and time again that The Shawshank Redemption is their all time favorite movie?

Because of this.

Compass and guns.

Because of this.

Surprise and wonder.

You’re dragged through hell to the get to the end, but oh my, what a glorious end.

Sometimes that’s what this life and this world feels like. It feels like hell.

But the glory and majesty of Heaven await. Right?

That’s what I believe, anyway.

That bit of surprise and wonder at the end—that chunk of hope—that’s what I’m going for with my stories.

I don’t want to preach. I don’t want to pontificate.

I don’t want to be a brand that brings in the big bucks.

What I want is to go through a little hell in every story to try and reach the shores of hope.

I want to take that bus ride with Morgan Freeman and I want to cry tears of hope with him.

I want to feel the swell of Thomas Newman’s score accompanying us as we jump bail even though nobody will really care.

Then I want to walk the soft, sandy beaches of sweet freedom. Of hope and redemption.

Dear publishing world: Do I really have to have a brand?

If so, that’s the brand that I’m trying out.

That’s the only brand I want.

I want to feel that feeling of surprise and wonder in every single story I’m fortunate enough to tell.

I want to feel excitement. In the words of Morgan Freeman's character, "I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain."

Sometimes it seems like this life can sure be a prison. But there's hope. I truly believe there's hope.

And I also believe that I'm supposed to write about it.

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