Seriously, I’m asking myself this. And the answer kind of horrifies me:
Tension. Conflict. Suffering. Struggle. Difficulty. Overcoming the odds. This is the stuff of epic poems. There’s a reason fairy tales don’t go beyond “And they lived happily ever after.”
“Happily ever after” doesn’t cut it as a story line.
I’m editing this book of women’s stories at the moment called “Stories of Becoming Myself: Milestones in Women’s Lives”—a collection of tales addressing everything from voicelessness to rape, religious cult programming to paralysis, child abuse to polyamory. And I’m constantly coaching the writers to get into their emotions. To dig into their pain—even if it’s long over and done with. Recall the conflicts. Dive into the issues. Talk about “When mommy hit daddy.” Talk about when husband number two left town with his secretary. Dive into that rape. Remember the time you were passed over for a promotion.
What was said? Who did what? How did it make you feel?
To their credit, not one woman yet has told me, “It made me feel like shit, dumb ass. What do you think? Now, bugger off!” Nope, they’re all diving into the pain pool where no one wants to swim, offering up their experiences and insights so maybe—just maybe—some other woman or man who reads this book down the road someday won’t have to go through what they went through.
Frankly, even though I’m a woman, it constantly amazes me all the crap women have put up with. And yeah, a lot of it makes for good storytelling. But all the same, isn’t ditching the crap what most of us have spent several college degrees worth of money on self-improvement courses and enlightenment seminars trying to achieve?
If we all “woke” and got over ourselves, where would we be? What would we write books and make movies about?
Ahhhhh. I know. The Good Ol’ Days.