Writing the book of one’s life

Yom Kippur—the Day of Atonement—began at sundown yesterday. Jews today are fasting and praying as God decides each person’s fate in the coming year. One of the metaphors that comes out of this is that of “writing the book of one’s life.” Those of us that contribute to blogs regularly have come to know many of the virtues and pratfalls of perpetually and compulsively scribbling.

Jim Solllish, writing in the Washington Post, notes how his writing career does indeed help him understand this highest of holy days in the Jewish faith:

On Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, each of us is asked to reread our manuscript of the past year and make revisions. We are tasked with asking such questions as “What could I have done differently?” and “What were the effects of my choices on others?” When I realized these were the questions novelists ask of their characters, it became easier to ask them of myself.

Writing is a process of making choices. Thousands of them. The act of writing an opening sentence is the result of more choices than I can count. Every word a character speaks or swallows is a choice. Every action or inaction, more choices. It’s so easy to get them wrong. Or at least to see that another choice would have made more sense.

Read the whole thing here:

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