Posted by: Dorianne Cotter-Lockard | 26 August 2008

Fiction Writing for Scholars – an Oxymoron?

In another exercise during our writing workshop last weekend, we were asked to write a short fiction piece that captured the essence of our current scholarly writing project. Since I’m in the process of editing my recent meditation research paper, I launched into this task with some excitement and trepidation. I have never considered myself to be very adept at creative writing. Non-fiction is my comfort zone and we were give only 20 minutes to write the story. But this exercise really helped me to summarize my own experience of meditation and spiritual self-discovery. Here’s the story:

The flight to Travidanim was rather bumpy and long and I shortly found myself standing in a hot dusty road, ready to begin the real journey on foot. I was not prepared for this place. Hot sun grabbed at my shoulders as I picked up my bags and started walking along the road.

A man approached me, with a look of recognition on his face. I didn’t know him, yet his eyes told me the truth – that we were connected somehow.

“You are not lost,” he chuckled, “just frightened.”

“How did you know?” I asked, with a half smile.

“I sense you are going to the temple. I would be happy to show you the way.”

Actually, none of these words were spoken, as we didn’t speak each other’s language. The whole interaction took place through eyes and gestures. I showed him the name of the temple and my map and he started to walk with me.

We walked for over an hour in silence. Gradually the road became less dusty and the trees and plants by the roadside became more lush and green. In the silence, I started sensing the energy of the trees around me. The sun was no longer an angry opponent, I experienced it now as a large, gentle, warm friend.

Finally, my companion showed me through the door to the temple. It was cool inside and completely empty except for the most beautiful rugs on the floors, a few soft pillows against the wall, and candles lit in a few iron sconces on the walls.

I felt a sense of peace and gratitude for this place. It no longer mattered that I had been frightened. It didn’t matter that I had taken a long journey. I took in a deep breath and let it out, knowing I was home.

This story is completely metaphor. It accurately reflects my personal experience and summarizes the experiences of my research study participants. I plan to use this as a closing piece in my paper.

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