Everyone loves a good story. Stories connect us, they help us to identify with and relate to each other. But what if the stories we’re telling ourselves are because we are following the establishment’s set rules for our lives? What if the stories we’re telling each other are based on the blueprints which are impressed upon us in subtle and forthright ways daily?
Media is strong in the lives of most of us. Oh yeah sure, some of you are out there living “off the grid” and quite possibly “flying under the radar.” But a lot of the rest of us aren’t. Some of us are watching a lot trash television, some are reading trashy novels, intense and dramatic novels, sci-fi, fantasy, romance and similar ilks of writing. And a lot of us are on social media constantly. I mean like, every single day! Checking our blogs, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and who knows what else. I’m middle-aged and occasionally off the grid, so I’m less in the know than I care to admit.
What if there’s more to our life stories than the ones we’re telling each other? Poetry writers know what I’m taking about, they’re writing it all down, but they struggle to make a living off of such writing. Why is that? Oh I know what we’ve been trained to think about why that is. But think about it. That’s for another kind of post, not this one.
Choosing the writing life has been one of the most exhilarating, freeing of events and simultaneously one of the most difficult, gut wrenching of all the things I’ve ever done. It is kicking my ass. Seriously. But I’m loving it. You know which part I don’t love? Not knowing what comes next. Creatives know they must do a lot of waiting and cultivate a special kind of patience with whatever they understand as their muse. We have to grab inspiration when it strikes even if it comes at three in the fuckin morning (like now— ugh!). That’s not easy for a middle-aged chick like me. I love my sleep and when I don’t get it— I used to be like a hungry bear, but now — I just want to cry.
I love reading stories. I enjoy a good magazine story, a well-written news story, a good book, a good memoir, an interesting blog— you name it, if it’s in writing and it grabs, I’m sooo reading it. And I love that writers commit to the painstaking craft of writing to bring us their stories, no matter what kind of genre they produce. I’m pretty sure if you’re reading this you enjoy reading to. But what if we’re not getting the whole story?
In this process of cultivating my own writing talent I’ve had to give up most of social media. It hasn’t been easy. I feel like a hermit living life in a cave, except my cave is full of people because everywhere I go, people are on their devices, staring at it, typing on it, or talking into it. Some days I feel really left out! I want to play too, but I know I can’t. I know I have to avoid as many distractions as I can summon discipline to abstain from. Isn’t that a fun fact creatives want to know about? I think it is.
What if that bank teller handling your deposit this morning cried herself to sleep after a nasty argument with her boyfriend the night before? What if your mechanic showed up to work after having a night spent between the police station and a bail bondsman because his best friend got into a bar brawl and had no-one else he could call? What if your co-worker is worried about the her teenaged daughter breaking curfew more often lately, coming home stinking of liquor and cigarettes?
There’s no crying in baseball! Remember that line from a 1990s movie? When Tom Hanks played the coach for a woman’s baseball league and he got up in one woman’s face and uttered that line? Right. The blueprint. That’s what I’m talking about. Somebody wrote that story based on the blueprint. The blueprint which tells us all to suck it up and get life done. Had a fight with your boyfriend or your girlfriend or your spouse? Might your relationship be in tatters? Suck it up because it’s time to go to work. Worried about your teenager? A friend needs your help? Doesn’t matter because shit happens to us all, no excuses, get to work.
Oh yeah, I know we’re telling each other these stories in minor ways— gossip, venting, therapy, and the like. And yes, a number of these kinds of topics do find their way into movies, television and book themes, often secondary, oh you know, the subplot. But not all of them. I don’t think all the stories have been told yet. I think we’ve been staring so long at the blueprints authored by the establishment, a lot of us have forgotten how to tell our own stories. Not the big sprawling, main events— weddings, funerals, illnesses, wars, crime, etc. We know how to talk about those, we do it all the time. But the nuanced parts of the journey, the little things, all the incidentals we hurdled to get to where we are.
I bet you have a story about how you got the device you’re reading from, just like I have a story about the laptop I’m using to write this. I’m writing on a MacBook Air which I bought myself as a fiftieth birthday present in preparation for quitting my job to write full-time. These fun facts can become bigger stories.
As much as I enjoy solitude because I’m more introvert than extrovert, I sometimes miss having more frequent interactions with people. But it’s a tradeoff I’m willing to accept if it helps to cultivate more inspired writing, which it does.
I’ve shredded the blueprint and I’m telling you what I know. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg because imagine all the stories the rest of you know that many of us are not getting. Think about it. Maybe you should journal more and/or start jotting down a few extra things besides your to-do list. We matter, all of us. All of our stories piece together to advance us forward daily, weekly and throughout the ages.