[The following is episode 7 in my How I Write Series, and an example of a very first draft, with absolutely no editing, spellchecking, or grammar check. Actually, it’s one of my better typing examples, lol. As I read through it just now, I was like, “Damn! That was better than usual!” To put the piece in context, it’s part of a chapter from my upcoming book, The End of Fear Itself, which will be released to the public on September 22nd. I give it to you, my lovely readers, in its raw form, to show you, as Hemingway once said, “There are no great writers, only great rewriters.” I think I will return to this once I have cleaned it up, to show you the before and after. This is also, Day 17 of the Year Long Daily Blog experiment, if you’re keeping count. I have given you the audio recording below, if you want to listen. Enjoy!]
Our minds tell us stories all day long, and even when we’re asleep. We are essentially storytelling monkeys, with less hair. Well, some of you have less hair; I’m pretty hairy. I hate bananas, though. Just in case you were wondering if I was going to swing down out of a tree or something.
As mentioned earlier, we developed the ability to tell stories so long ago in our evolution, that the origin is lost to us. This was probably a monkey-brain development, when we started to distinguish a Past, from the Present. With that ability to remember past events, and dangers, our ancestors were able to construct mental—if not verbal—stories about those events, and bring them to mind when confronted with similar situations in the Present. This helped them to avoid dangers, like King Cobras, lions, tigers, and bears, not to mention stampeding wildebeests. And if you’ve ever been run over by a bunch of pissed off wildebeests, you know it’s something to avoid. Our ape ancestor—let’s call him Clark—probably sat in a tree, a coupld million years ago, saw a not-yet-stampeding herd of beests-of-the-wilde and rememered the story he had constructed in his mind of when cousin Eddie—not the one from Christmas Vacation standing in his bathrobe emptying his camper toilet into the storm drain while smoking a cigar, but just a monkey version of the same guy, well, a more monkeyesque version anyway—was messing around on the savanna one day when he inadvertantly, accidentally mind you, kicked a wildebeest in the scrotum, for fun—because that’s what cousin Eddie type, monkey ancestors woud do—and occasioned the entire herd to run rampant, leaving Eddie lying in a pile of bones, blood, and wildebeest shit. This simple, if amusing monkey story, kept Clark alive, and that’s aweomse for us, because he’s our grandfather, maybe the great, great, great grandfather of Adam, and Eve! He passed down that storytelling ability to us, and now we can avoid being stampeded by wild beasts on the savana, and sneak out the back when Cousin Eddie arrives, uninvited, for Christmas dinner.
It’s a handy tool to have, storytelling. But we can also rewrite our stories!
Yep, that’s what I said, rewrite them. And that includes the stories we tell about our fears, and doubts, and past failures and insecurities. We can, instead of seeing them as finished stories complete with THE END at the the so-called end of them—turn them into serials, continuing sagas, epics even! Why end the story when we’re still alive? Ive always thought that the whole ‘the lived happily ever after’ was bullshit anyway, not to mention, boring. Do you leap for joy when your favorite television show finally comes to an end? Fuck no. I don’t. I want it to keep going. I hated the crap out of it when I got the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for instance, or the abrupt end of the first season of Firefly. I hate that shit.
And I hate it even worse when the ending IS happy. If yuou’re going to end my favorite show, kill everyone! I mean, go all Billy Shakespeare on the entire cast! Let’s have a Hamlet-esque ending! Burn it all down! Or, keep the story going.
Our story is still going; it has not ended. In fact, there’s only one story in all of the history of the Universe: the Big Bang. It’s still going on. We’re part of it, and so is our personal story. So, let’s rewrite our stories to give them more positive direction, not endings. Instead of saying, “I’m a failure” for instance, let’s say, “I failed to accomplish that thing, but I really want to succeed at it, so that was just an experience of failing, and I learned that the way I did it doesn’t work! Cool. Let’s try something else. Kind of like Edison and his lightbulbs.”
Or, “That didn’t work out. Maybe I’ll let that be, and do something entirely different, taking the lessons from that previous experience with me.” That’s an entirely different story, a continuing one, unlike the pathetic, crappy, “I’m a failure,” where we turned ourselves into a victim, and a noun, to boot. Let’s not OWN failure, pain, or Fear. We don’t own them, and let’s not let them own us. Instead, think of failing, feeling pain, and fearing, and realize that they are transient experiences, not good, not bad, just experiences, part of the fuckin’ story, and let’s reframe the entire story of our lives, as heroic, courageous, epics like the Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, or Rocky. In fact, cue up the theme to Rocky and try to feel like a failure. It ain’t gonna happen, especially if you’ve ever seen the movie. It’s gonna pick you up and make you feel like you can kick Fear’s ass.