Suddenly, the plot thickened…
Ever feel like you’ve been thrown a plot twist in the story of your life by a particularly sadistic screenwriter?
It’s those kinds of days when you wonder “why is life out to get me?” When it’s not actually out to get you, as you’ve probably heard me say before. However, it feels like it. So here’s the question: why not come up with your own plot twists? Who says you don’t get to write your own story, or at least part of it?
The Collaborative Life
This thought comes to me on the heels of one of my own particular rewrites. After a year of writing this blog, I chose to send a contribution to the well-known personal development site Tiny Buddha. About a month ago I got an email from the founder of that site, who was about to unveil her own new project: the first Tiny Buddha e-course, a course for people who are “…tired of waiting to live? Be the hero of your life story!”
Yes, that is in fact an affiliate link, and I’d love it if you chose to click on it and join the course. Do I think it’s worth it? Hell yes. If I didn’t, would I be writing this blog in the first place? But more than just believing in it there is the meta-concept of how the fact that I get to offer you that link is proof in and of itself that the concept works.
There was this guy, see, who liked to read, and had done a lot of different jobs, from jarhead to short-order-cook to music teacher to dance video editor, and many combinations in between. But what he really wanted to do was be a writer. Some of it was the glamorous writing life portrayed by his favorite authors like Robert Heinlein; some of it was simply following in the steps of Spider Robinson, who famously finished a book on his nightwatch shift, threw it aside and muttered disgustedly “I could write better than that!”
But why should that schmuck have anything to say? How could he actually get the words down? The answer is that it takes a village to create a writer. It started subtly: one Christmas, out of the blue, his parents gave him pens, moleskine notebooks, and entire writing courses on DVD. Another friend suggested The Artist’s Way, and that led to him starting the habit of “Daily Pages”, which morphed into a blogging habit as Livejournal and Blogger and such came along.
Other places began to publish his writing, such as the university where he got a degree in dance – but notice that: it was dance, not journalism. He was not a writer, in his own eyes, he simply wrote things, things that people began to like. Even when he’d write dreadful little short romance pieces under a pen name, they kept being bought by editors of e-book anthologies. At one point almost half his income was coming from other “information” pieces written for link sites.
But he still wasn’t a writer. Why? Because he didn’t think of himself as one. He was a guy who wrote, that’s all.
He hadn’t written that plot twist in.
There’s a famous maxim by the playwright that goes something like this: if there’s a gun on the wall in Act One, there had better be somebody getting shot by Act Three. To stretch the analogy a bit, if there’s been a typewriter sitting on the table since the curtain came up, at some point somebody needs to admit they are a writer. Or else it’s a tragedy, and it’s all about the things that remained unwritten.
When you see yourself as the hero of our own story, you radically transform how you perceive and treat yourself, how you view and meet challenges, and what you believe you deserve and can achieve in life. – Lori Deschene, Tiny Buddha
So here’s the point: how much of a plot twist would it take to have our (obviously hypothetical) protagonist suddenly go from being “one who writes” to “writer”? With all those people – parents, friends, schools, even editors conspiring to let him know his work had value, at what point would the “writer” emerge? If you were watching this in a movie, at what point would you be tearing out your hair with frustration at the lack of character development?
And then, of course, because I really want these posts to be mirrors for you as well as me: what story is your life telling, and what kind of plot twist would it take to change it?
Maybe you know the answer. Maybe the “Recreate Your Life Story” program has the answer. But whatever it is, you know that you are at the very least a major contributor to the story of your life.