So, What’s Your Story?
I just spent about 40 minutes watching movie previews, but nothing came close to what I was looking for. And then I thought, well, what am I even looking for? When I realized the answer to this question, it struck me as so silly and yet remarkably appropriate.
I have this habit of watching movie previews; I do it all the time. I’ve collected quite the list of titles that maybe I’ll feel like watching one day, but chances are they won’t be what I’m looking for.
I’ve been previewing other people’s stories when what I really want is to write my own.
What I’m looking for when I browse through movies or books is my story. Not just the one I’ll put on paper, but the one that will be my life. I keep looking out there for a model of what I want, but as Carrie Bradshaw taught me back in Season One of Sex and the City, models are not mortals. I am definitely not a model, and I am so far from immortal, which is probably why I didn’t just end up watching one of the Twilight movies again. (Yeah, I’ve seen them all and I have no shame).
So what’s the story of a mortal like me? It’s a lot more complicated than a 2 to 3 hour romantic comedy, I can tell you that. It’s not just a comedy, just like it’s not just a tragedy, or a romance, or a history–but it is all of these things.
When movies end, we usually have a sense of satisfaction or simply move on after a statement like, “Oh, how cute, they finally got it together” or “I can’t believe he just died!” or “that’s not how it was in the book!” It shouldn’t be surprising to me now that my favorite movies or stories don’t end. They stick with me and I get to wonder what happens next. I get to write that part in my head, revise it over and over again, and it feels more real. Fact or fiction has essentially become irrelevant to me at this point; I just care about the truth. And truth is something we can find even in the most fictitious of stories. I guess this probably seems like an ironic thing to say, but not to me. It seems logical, in fact (pun intended).
So what was the story I wanted to find tonight? What was the truth I was looking for in a fictitious film? This mortal wanted to pretend for a couple hours that I could be a model. Not a size 0, 6 foot runway model that short girls like Carrie and I are intimidated by, but models of life. Little samples or predictions of what could be. I thought for a second that I wanted to pretend my life would play out like in the stories I read or the movies I watch, but the most beautiful thing I reminded my silly self tonight is that it won’t. Because my story isn’t written yet.
Will I fall in love, get married, have children, a great career? The stories and the movies won’t tell me anymore than those ridiculous 8 balls that I loved in the early 90s or cheap psychics with bad breath under the tent at the fair. But here’s the upside: as much as we can’t control exactly what happens in our lives, we can create our own versions of any of the things we want. It’s all in the details. Check it out:
If I don’t fall in love with a man, I can simply fall in love with life. And I feel that happening already. I can also love someone just to love them, even if they don’t love me, too. There’s no rules for this.
I might never get married, but if I don’t, I know I have the loyalty, the love, and the companionship of my friends and my family and maybe that’s enough. And I’ll always have enough self-worth to know that I didn’t just settle.
Maybe I won’t have a son or a daughter, but maybe I’ll write a novel and it will feel like my child, my creation, and I will find fulfillment. I’ll also leave behind my work and find that glimmer of immortality (gasp!) that us mortals are always dreaming of. (Or maybe that’s just us writers?)
And maybe my career won’t make me a fortune, but perhaps I’ll be fortunate enough to be truly happy.
I’m not saying that I don’t want a romance, a marriage, a child, or a fantastic career. I haven’t finished drafting or plotting these details yet. All I’m saying is that these things might not look like they do on my flat screen or in the pages of my favorite novels and that’s okay. It’s better than okay, actually, it’s miraculous. It’s my life.
I’d like to remind myself from time to time that there’s no rush–no deadlines on this one. And if I’m not done writing my story, I shouldn’t expect that anyone else has either. I always find having a writing buddy is fun, anyway.
Maybe what we should all be doing is simply finding people we’d like to write our stories with. After all, these will be the characters in our lives, for better or worse.
So, what’s your story like so far? Are you the author? If you’re too lazy, you can always just rent a movie or re-read some Nicholas Sparks and act accordingly.
I’m gonna go write my own story. It will be an epic…Romance? Tragedy? Comedy? History?
Choice E– All of the above.