Saturday, November 19, 2011

We Are Our Own Protagonists

Each person is the protagonist in his or her own life. This is true whether someone is a writer, an architect, a fast food restaurant employee, a doctor, a student, a dancer, or a funeral director. And while I'm stating the obvious, each life has oodles of stories that can be told about it. The first day of school might be a picture book story. The same is true for the second grade spelling bee--even if you lose because you overthink an answer and wind up sobbing, and the happy ending comes when your mom buys you a trophy to let you know you're always a winner in her eyes.

(Thanks, Mom!)

If you dissect one person's life, think of the stories that may be told. If I were to imagine my current aspiring author-self as the protagonist in a book or film, the big tear-jerking moment at the end would be the agent call that lets me know about my first book deal. (The part of the agent has yet to be cast, but those who qualify may audition.) Another story could cover the next books (!), my time in rehab for Frappuccino addiction (I hope not!), how I handle being a New York Times bestselling author (Dream big, bloggy friends!), or how I die an old woman hunched over the keyboard, unpublished but working until the very end to change that (genre: horror).

Let's focus on the story about the journey from "aspiring author" to "author." It
is a journey. At the beginning, we have no idea how little we know. The map in our hands, we soon realize, has folds that stick together, hiding miles of terrain. Also, the section marked as hilly is actually a ginormous mountain range dotted with lava pits (failure), soul-sucking spiders (self-doubt), and little pygmy goats that distract us with their cuteness (everything in life that might be easier to obtain). But aren't journey stories with lava pits, soul-sucking spiders, and pygmy goats the most rewarding in the end? (Note to self: add lava pits, soul-sucking spiders, and pygmy goats to work-in-progress.)

Don't get me wrong: as much as I like conflict in stories, I don't want it in my real life. I want to be published as soon as I possibly can. If I could have debuted yesterday, I would have. But with hindsight, I'm glad I didn't debut, say, five years ago. While I felt ready and craved a book deal a bajillion times more than I thirsted for any caffeinated drink with a green straw, I've learned so much since then. I've grown as a writer and as a person. I'm now farther along on my journey, and I'm more prepared.

As the protagonist in my own life, I can't wait for the climax! I am on the edge of my seat! But really, I
can wait. I have to. Besides, you shouldn't rush a good story.

Question: if you could peek at the end of the current book you're starring in to learn the date of the next big moment in your writing journey, would you?

*Note: next week I'll post an interview with author Stasia Ward Kehoe! I will be giving away a copy of AUDITION, her debut YA novel!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Old Kitty said...

In answer to your question "YES!" and without hesitation! LOL!!! Who needs suspense?!? I'm over 40! LOL!

But seriously - love this post! It's only as the years are going by do I feel more confident and more assured about my stories. When I started I knew absolutely NOTHING about the skills it took to write a story, nothing! Only through some harsh but helpful criticisms did I pull through. Attending classes, attending writers' groups, attending more classes and reading, reading, reading has truly helped and I still feel I have much to learn - so much! I think reaching my age has also mellowed out my expectations. My ambitions burn as passionately but my patience and eagerness to learn more and more evens things out a little!

Good luck with your amazing journey - and have fun!! Enjoy! Take care

Angelina C. Hansen said...

I can't wait to hear about that phone call, Dawn! And I'd like one of my own one of these days. But I'm content to not know when so I can tell myself it's coming any day now. ^-^

Susan R. Mills said...

No, I don't think I'd look. I like surprises. Happy Thanksgiving!

Dawn Simon said...

Old Kitty, I love all that you said. My favorite part: "My ambitions burn as passionately but my patience and eagerness to learn more and more evens things out a little!" Good luck to you as well! :)

Thanks, Angelina! I look forward to hearing about your call! You're closer than I am!

Susan, I wouldn't look, either, though there are days I'd be tempted. I always think, THIS will be my year! I think that helps keep me in fightin' form. ;)

Nancy Thompson said...

Heck yeah!! I'm too old to wait for the ending to be exposed.

Kjersten said...

I loved reading this post, Dawn. And I totally relate. It's fun to think of one's struggles as though they were in a book. But sometimes I really, really want to peak ahead... But I suppose that would take some of the thrill away from a happy surprising day. Sending good thoughts your way.

Susan Fields said...

The next big moment of my book would be getting an agent, and yes, I would absolutely look! Even if I couldn't get the date, I'd just be happy knowning it's going to happen someday - it seems like an impossible dream some times!

Dawn Simon said...

Nancy, hee-hee!

Thanks, Kjersten! I'm sending good thoughts your way as well!

Susan, that's my next big moment too. I'm just planning ahead. ;) And I hear ya.

Faith Pray said...

Dawn, how perfectly expressed! I feel it, too, and hate that I am a last-page kind of reader. I have the willpower in so many other things, like as a kid saving my Christmas candy till it turned chalky and white. But the last page in a book? Especially if the conflict is really stressful? Well, there you go. I guess I'd peek. Sad, but true.

Medeia Sharif said...

Of course I'll take a peek. I'm curious and impatient. :)

I hope you're having a wonderful holiday weekend.

Angela Ackerman said...

This is a great way to look at it! We should be patient--it will all be worthwhile in the end. :)

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse