This is going to sound crazy, but it seriously just occurred to me that the beauty of being the Writer of a Story is that you get to control the action. It’s true. I blame the legal profession. Let me ‘splain….contrary to popular belief, in my world at least, lawyers don’t get to just make up the facts in order to convince the reader/audience to come to the conclusion we are advocating. Believe me, it would be a much cooler job if you could do that… No, we’re stuck with what actually happened. The trick is to
twist present the facts in a way that suggests your version of the story is correct. Turns out I’m pretty good at that. So good that I totally forgot that I have an IMAGINATION!
I used to think stuff like: “Wow. Maybe I could write a book using some of the stuff that really happened during my ridiculously long legal career….”** And then I would think: “Hmmmm, it’s only kind of interesting though, I mean nothing super-dramatic really happened…” And now I’m like “Oh My God! [no, I’m not Usher] it doesn’t matter what really happened…screw the FACTS! I get to make shit up!!” [lawyer brain alarm: “What? You will get sued!, Me: Relax already.] I’m the Writer, I’m like all-powerful . It doesn’t matter if, in real life, that Evil Senior Partner took all the credit for that brilliant brief I wrote — in my story he goes out for a long lunch, gets drunk and, sadly, has a horrific pedestrian vs. light rail accident, then the brief is filed with my name (rightfully!) on it and it’s so persuasive that the Supreme Court frames it and hangs it on the wall as an example for what they would like to see from other attorneys…. Voila! Imagination is awesome! If I don’t like someone in my story, I can take them out…
Can you see where this is going? Bear with me… epiphany ahead… It occurs to me,”Dude, I can totally do that in real life, too.”
I’m not saying that I can, literally, take someone out in the “oops! you’re dead” way, of course. But I am in charge of my story, right? I get to choose who to let in, who to listen to, who to engage with, who to play with, right? Some things are unavoidable, but, for the most part, I’m the Queen of my country. (now I’m totally on an epiphany roll…) Further, even though some things are unavoidable, I am, in fact, in charge of how I let it affect my story! Sooooo, if it’s true (and it is…) that I am in charge of my story, why the fuck have I been choosing negative, unempowering, unprotective responses to things that happen? That is crazy. These epiphanies are awesome. I’m in charge! I can even wear a BADGE (I’ve always had a thing about badges…) if I want. I’m the frickin’ law around here… If someone or something is making me miserable, I can change the story. I can lose the misery or lose the person/thing and choose to be happy (or at least not-miserable). This is huge. Life-changing.
Not surprisingly, all these epiphanies have led to some personnel changes in my, ummmm, head. Good thing I’m still practicing writing dialogue for my writing class! Let’s listen in:
Kimberly: (knocking impatiently on door to the writing studio while going ahead and opening it…)
Kim: “The door was shut for a reason. Do you seriously need to be here right now?”
Kimberly: (looking around for a place to sit….) “How can you even work like this? This place is a mess. How can you expect to get anything done in here?” (decides to remain standing)
Kim: (sighs) “We are FORTY-SIX (46) years old and this is how I work. It’s how I’ve always worked. We go through this all the time — we try it your way and before any really good work gets done everything is messy and back to my way. I’m not doing it your way this time, Kimberly, I’m sick of your shit.”
Kimberly: “Well, Mom agrees with me.”
Kim: “I don’t care if the fucking Pope agrees with you! Why are you even here? All you ever do is complain and say horrible things that aren’t even true. Look, I made a list (searching through papers piled precariously high on her “desk” [bed])… here it is — “Shit Kimberly Says That Isn’t Helpful At All and Mostly Sucks”
Kimberly: (rolling eyes and examining fingernails) “Nice filing system.”
Kim: (pointing) “Fuck you. (turns attention to the list) Listen to how you contribute to the environment around here… here we go — Here’s an oldie but goodie: ‘You’re fat and ugly, why would anyone love you?’…. How is that helpful, Kimberly? Oh, here’s a good combo punch: ‘You need to get a new job right away or we will be living under a bridge soon’ BUT WAIT ‘Who would hire you? You’re old, your “niche” is child welfare which is totally unmarketable and you have no clients because you just had to help the children…’ ….Great, Kimberly…. There’s a real confidence builder.
kimmy: (wrapping her red silk dressing gown around her while the 35+ year old servant boy brushes her long, luscious, curly hair with a silver brush) “Don’t forget she always calls me a slut.”
Kimberly: (barely glancing at kimmy) “You are a slut.”
Kim: (admiring the 35+ year old servant boy’s technique) “You can’t really argue with that.”
kimmy: (alarmed) “But she says it like it’s a BAD thing!”
Kim: (amused) “Well, she’s frigid.” (peering more closely at kimmy) “Can you even walk in those heels?”
kimmy: (delighted) “Aren’t they fabulous? They aren’t really for walking…” (winks)
Kim: (smiling) “Good point!”
Kimberly: (annoyed) “You’re both ridiculous. I know I’m negative, but that is the only way to get anything done around here. You two are certainly too lazy to accomplish anything. Without me you wouldn’t have even made it through law school, much less your career.”
kimmy: (looking at Kim) “She is a fucking bully. Why do we even listen to her? She isn’t our friend. Plus she dresses like a frump.”
Kim: (smiling at kimmy) “You’re totally right. From now on we ignore her. She is dead to us. (pulls out her BADGE and holds it so Kimberly can’t miss it…) You are out of here. Poof. You’re gone, Kimberly.”
Kimberly: (hands on hips) “You can’t kill me! I’m in charge!” (gets in Kim’s face, hasn’t noticed she is melting yet) “You are a horrible, horrible person…but more than that, you’re a horrible mother.” (fades away as she turns into a puddle of whatever)
Kim: (looking at kimmy) “Do you hear something?”
kimmy: (closes her eyes and smiles) “Nope. Not a thing.”
Kim: (relaxing on the purple velvet chaise lounge) “Good. Let me try on those shoes…”
So, yes, we killed Kimberly.*** She was negative all the time and totally interfered with my story. Do you have anyone you need to silence? I highly recommend it.
** 19 years isn’t a ridiculously long legal career, per se, but when you hate almost every minute of it and you are SURE you’re doing the “wrong” thing with your life, it is wayyyyyyyyyy too long.
*** I’m sure she isn’t gone, like, forever. But just knowing that she can be controlled is, like I said, HUGE.