On the best days, your story is like a good friend. You are eager to get to your desk because there you will get to spend time with this friend. You love the feeling of being in her company, you love how easily you talk together, and you love that although you may not know what you will talk about, you know it will be something interesting and meaningful. Surprises are a part of the pleasure of this friend’s company.
But sometimes that story is an enemy. It does not love you; it doesn’t even know you. You certainly don’t know her. She is stubbornly enigmatic and distant and extremely judgmental. You wouldn’t spend any time with her at all if you weren’t so desperate for approval. All her power rests in her withholding of this approval. You are allowed a glimpse before it is snatched away again. You are not yet worthy. Perhaps if you worked just a little bit harder.
It occurs to me that the best way to make good friends is to be a good friend yourself. I am not always such a good friend. Other people’s troubles seem like so much obsessive melodrama, whereas my troubles are the stuff of great stories. If my supposed friends would only listen, they would be both entertained and enlightened. Yet they are determined to believe their ups and their downs are as interesting as mine.
I can be a good friend too. When I am a good friend, I hear my friend’s troubles and think, “She has forgotten how great she is. If she only remembered, this wouldn’t be a problem at all.” Of course, there would be no stories to tell if no one ever believed in their own problems. And sometimes, I have to admit, I almost glad to hear about my friends’ troubles just so I get to remind them of the truth. Then I get to tell my favorite story of all, the one where friends meet again and remember who they are.
Write Within Yourself: An Author’s Companion.
“A book to keep nearby whenever your writer’s spirit needs feeding.” Deb Caletti.