My blog is about stories. Not just writing them but the opportunities that open up to us when we take control of our own narrative.
For that reason, I want to share this brilliant post I recently stumbled across. Before you go off and check it out though, let me explain why I like it and why I think stories like this are so important.
Dear Tracy Dolan,
What appeals to me first and foremost is the author’s brutal honesty. This is a candid and vivid account of what it takes to survive as a gay teenager in 90′s Seattle. Through his thoughtful self-reflection, Mike redeems himself of his past misdemeanours and takes control of his story. The result is extremely powerful.
As teenagers or young adults, gay or straight, most of us had our own survival strategy. The jokes we laughed at, the things we said or did that didn’t sit quite right. They served as camouflage. It wasn’t necessarily deliberate manipulation. Personally I followed my instinct, I used inbuilt survival tactics that rightly or wrongly moved the school yard predators on to other prey.
The best thing about being an adult is I no longer feel I have to conform. I wear clothes because they suit me, not because they are considered in. I listen to music that pleases me, not because NME says its cool. I no longer spout drivel just because I want to shock or feel I need to fill the silence. It’s ok just to be me.
That’s not to say I don’t sometimes slip.
The Demons Fight Back
It was inevitable I guess. I did as promised. I sent my story to the Manchester SCBWI critique group. I even felt quite smug about it and had a glass of wine to celebrate. But then the emotional roller coaster started up again. I started to agonise about how crap my story was. I should have waited I told myself, tested the water first. Just gone along to the meeting without submitting. They are all going to hate it.
As I write, I find myself making further excuses for my imaginary failings. Worse still I know I set myself up to do this. For a start I sent in a story I wasn’t attached to. Something I wrote over a few days because my son would enjoy it rather than it having great potential. That way when I get the comments back I can declare hey, I’m not crap they just haven’t seen my best work.
Really. What’s that all about?
Grow Up Love!
Why as an adult am I making excuses to people I’ve never met? Why am I so desperate for them to like my story or at least think I have potential?
Maybe in another post I’ll talk about the psychology behind this. What transactional analysts call the child ego state. Today I can’t be bothered, I’m just telling myself to grow up!
I’m remembering that young adult. Loud, in your face, two fingers up to the world. Inside dying, desperately seeking approval in what ever form that may come. I wasn’t that different to Mike. I’m not going back there.
Mike’s story is important as it reminds us that we all have demons. The key is not to agonise over what we could have done differently but rather to be true to ourselves in the future. Through that authenticity we will be true to others too.
So to prove I no longer need approval I am going to tell you one of my darkest secrets. Here goes, I confess, I like to eat left over brussel sprouts cold, straight from the fridge. Worse still I drown them in HP sauce. So much sauce you can barely see them. I’m disgusting.
But hey that’s me.