Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Stories We Tell

I recently picked up one of my old handwritten journals. It's a thin hardcover blank book style journal that I kept from 1994 to 1999. A record of my college years plus the year before and after. Fascinating. Humiliating. Laughable. Upsetting.

I look at some of the words, stories, memories recorded in the book and I wonder who the hell that person was who wrote it all. Not me. Couldn't be. Because so much of it is too terribly WRONG. But then I look at my blog here, and I think the same thing about some of these entries, even the more recent ones. Oh, I fully believed everything I wrote as I was writing it. 100%, no doubts. But later I'll see an issue in a different light because of something else I read or see or experience, and I'll wonder how I could have ever thought my first thoughts were correct.

We define ourselves by the stories we tell. I'm not talking just about the stories we tell to other people, but the stories we tell ourselves about our own beliefs, ideals, experiences. Television and film has exploited this very curiosity of human nature countless times. Different people/characters experience the same event, and their own role in the event, in very different ways, and those changes in perspective are absolutely fascinating to me. As a writer, I can use this to alter a scene simply by choosing a different view point character to filter the information.

So what am I getting at here.... hmmm.

Sometimes I can't leave a certain subject alone because I haven't found a way to tell the story so that it really makes sense, so that the truth of it is revealed, not only to the people reading, but to myself. Sometimes I realize after posting something that I was so far from the truth of the subject that it's both painful and laughable to read my own words. I see what bullshit I've spewed, and I cringe. Yet I've never deleted a post. (I don't think...)

All the crap stories and flawed journal entries serve as a guidebook of where I've already looked for the story that is me. I think if I every really figured it out, I'd have no reason to keep writing. However, I don't anticipate ever finding that elusive truth, so I'll just have to keep hacking away word by word.

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