Stories we live (and die) by
We are creatures who live in story. At least I am. We are invested in our stories. At least I am. If we've got a good story, we want to preserve it, enhance it, and embellish it. At least I do. The last thing we want to do, when I have a good story, is to get rid of it. That’s true, at least, for me. (Or at least, that's my story.)
My best stories are about my struggles to overcome difficult conditions. And many of my favorites are about writing. When I'm not writing, I'm still working hard. I'm struggling to write. And man, is that tough.
But here's the problem, I've just realized. Maybe the struggle to write is such a good story that preserving it is more important than actually writing. Or maybe I haven't just realized that. Maybe "I just realized" is just another story.
Fact: It's been 45 days since the last time I wrote. Ironically, I wrote about my high productivity workflow. Which I then proceeded to not use. Because? Beats me. But I'm sure I could come up with a great story to explain it. Or a story about struggling to explain it. While not writing, of course, because then the story would disappear.
That's the paradox. If I used my super-duper workflow (as I'm doing right now) then my ongoing struggle to write would be over. I would just sit at my computer, talking (as I'm doing right now), and having words appear--fairly effortlessly. What's the fun in that? What is heroic about talking? Nothing. Indeed, the better I'm getting at this (as I'm doing right now), the worse the story gets.
If I simply continue to do what I'm doing right now, the story of the epic struggle between me and some unknown, invisible, powerful force that keeps me from writing is gone. Even the story of trying to name it is gone. Call it ADD. Call it distraction. Call it the divided self. Spend time deciding what to call it. Find things to write about, and then don’t write about them, because--that's the way the story goes. And the story goes on.
And this morning, right now, I'm ruining a perfectly good story. I'm sitting here in front of my Chromebook and the words are coming out and they need very little editing. (And now I'm editing them, and the editing is easy, too. Shit!) The story of my struggle to write is much more interesting than the story of how I'm writing this. Once I'm in flow, things just--well, they flow. No drama.
I've got a ton of stuff to write about, and an effective way to write it down and I could go on writing. But to do that, I have to give up my story of struggling against a force greater than myself. (It has to be a force greater than me, or I'd win an instant. And what's the fun in that?) Instead, right now, I'm a laborer. My job is writing. I sit in front of my computer, and I do my job. Is that a story? Not an interesting one.
Can't I accept the fact that I've “ broken through” and finally written something as the story of a victory? Sadly, no. When I'm telling myself the story of my struggle, it’s the story of my battle against a worthy adversary--even if it's in my own mind, imaginary. It's worth. But right now, while I'm sitting down actually writing, I realize that the struggle was not between a noble hero, and an evil force. It was just stupidity. An embodied idiot was struggling to overcome a stupid idea of his own creation.
Not as good a story.
But wait, I'm a storyteller. If I have to make it a story to write the next piece, I can do that.
I can totally do that.
So here's the new story: Through a combination of brilliant thinking, moral courage, self-discipline, and force of will, I managed to overcome--Oh, fuck it. It's really stupid.
I'll just post it, and get on with it.