Sunday, December 02, 2007

How to Tell a Story?

I am running into trouble. I want to write a story about my day, but the process is making me feel very exposed. Yes, I have been exposing myself online now for over two years, but this is different. For some reason, it's acceptable to struggle when life is tragic, get angry when circumstances are devastating, and be prideful when the burden is so heavy. But today's story is not tragic and my life is pretty normal. I went to church, ate lunch alone, and went on a first date. Consequently, divulging my inner thoughts feels immodest and indulgent. I am embarrassed by myself.

Regardless, I can't possibly be the only one who thinks these things. In fact, I suspect that great writing is great in part because its characters are so unashamedly real that they are endeared to the reader not in spite of but because of their flaws. I can really get behind that for a fictional character. Not so much when the protagonist is me.

Let's put it this way: try writing down your thoughts and feeling for a day and see how many people you want to have read them. I used to disregard that suggestion by thinking, "OK. What's the big deal? I'm an open book. Honesty and kindness are easy for me." HA! Even that little thought is embarrassing. How prideful! Sadly, I only realize the arrogance when I put it out there for others to read.

Here's a snippet of what I started to write about today...

Another couple of pounds had disappeared, and her favorite A-line skirt buttoned easily. She paired it with her knee-high black platform boots, and wondered if it was too flashy for church? "No." she thought. "There's nothing immodest; it's just a little louder than I usually wear. And, besides, I feel confident and fun, so why not?" The attitude worked well for her that morning...

Let's just stop there. This is my CHURCH! And, a lot of you reading this blog probably saw me this morning. I don't know that I really want you to know that my boots made me feel more confident or that my skirt fit better today than it did last week. But, it paints a good picture of the real me, and that's invaluable in story.

Anyway, I haven't solved this problem yet, and it is part of a larger concern I am considering as I begin to write. How do I be true to who Dalton and I are and still look at my friends after they read the book?

I'm optimistic that an answer can be found.


Blogger mendacious said...

even danica reading my story on sunday made me all sorts of exposed. vulnerability is eviscerating but oh so liberating... i am torn constantly along this line. i don't know if it gets easier but i think i more often am glad of it, over regretting it.

can we just say, oh fuck it, i just need to tell the truth...agh. also people are all sorts of observant. you looked totally hot, even if you hadn't ever written a word about it. ; )

12:32 PM  

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