Yearning and Desire

Need.  Want.  Yearning.  Desire.  Do those words resonate with you?  The emotion is even engraved on the Statue of Liberty.  “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”  (Thank you, Emma Lazarus.)  Yearning is part of our psychic, and yet many of us never think about how it drives our daily actions.

Don’t get geeked out by my temporary sideline into writing here.  This post is about much more than the craft.  It’s about us.

This past weekend, I attended a wonderful writing workshop led by David Corbett (www.davidcorbett.com) and put on by Sacramento Valley Rose (www.sacramentovalleyrose.com), the local chapter of Romance Writers of America.  Entitled “Character Spines and Story Lines”, we covered categories of stories, story structure, protagonists, conflict, and many other topics writers lap up like caffeine (or wine).  The best part, though, the thing that stuck with me the most, was… yearning.

Framed in the context of motivation, yearning is as vital to our human existence as breathing.  Without yearning, what are we working for?  (I hear you – “Deep, Yvonne, too deep for me to read while I’m munching down my lunch.”  Swallow that bite and stick with me.)  While we applied this to our characters in the workshop, the idea hasn’t left me alone, poking at me like a staple in the corner of an unruly stack of pages.

I yearn.  I’m betting you do too.  I just never thought about it in quite that way before.

From start to finish (or act to action), here’s the idea.  In our lives, we experience a lack.  It could be love or respect, money or safety.  Pick something that broke, and probably broke early in your life.  You probably stub your toe on often, and shake it off in an attempt to say it’s not important.

Why don’t you fix it?  The easy answer is because, consciously or unconsciously, you feel you can’t.  Something blocks you.  David highlighted this as a weakness, wound, limitation or flaw that keeps you from living the life you want.

This produces YEARNING.  (I’m not just talking simple cravings, as I currently have for another helping of that chocolate-avocado mousse at the restaurant last weekend.)  Without something pushing you past your fear, you’ll never act to get past it.

Yearn then act

Does this sound like something in your life?  I certainly related to it, and I’ve been examining it ever since.  There are things I want to ‘fix’ – but so far, the necessary bigger-than-life kick in the behind hasn’t occurred.

And circling back to the writing life, this is why some books are great and others make us snore.  Fictional characters appealing to us through their yearning, and through the resolution of whatever has to happen to make them move against their fear to satisfy the yearning, that desire to act.  They are appealing precisely because they mirror our real lives.  We relate to them, to the challenges they face and the climb to their top of the mountain.

It’s because we yearn to climb too.

As you think about this, I invite you to consider what you yearn for in your life.  What must happen to make you change?  How important is it to you?  Is it worth risking the avalanche?

Thanks #DavidCorbett for opening my mind to new ideas!