I have a tremendous obsession with literature–there’s a 90% chance that I’ve read, reread and academically analyzed any great work of literature from the greatest writers of our time. As a child, I would much rather grab a book and isolate myself in my bedroom, stretching the depths of my imagination and escaping for just a moment of time where I became characters, and characters became me, and our realities merged together in a fictional love affair that can only occur while reading a perfect, moving masterpiece of words.
While studying English in college, I quickly understood that the art of writing was rewriting and I began to appreciate this gift as I felt connected to my literary heroes, understanding that their stories faced multiple revisions before becoming recognized pieces of literature that are still relevant in our culture today. This was somehow comforting to me, and I am still comforted knowing that as a writer, editing is literally my best friend.
Furthermore, as an adult, I am also understanding the power of narrative in a way unlike any other, because I am applying the principles of narrative to my thoughts and life. When I was a child, for instance, I was bullied by kids because of the way that I looked and the way that I spoke. I can still hear the flood of words these kids would say, in unison, when I was on my way to school, in the hallways, or just going home. These events literally destroyed me, and crushed my sense of self in just my elementary years of developing my identity. I can’t really remember a time when I wasn’t bullied–these events occurred even through high school.
This is the power of the narrative–someone else’s words can haunt us in a such a way that we accept their perception and reject our own identity.
What is interesting about my experiences of being bullied–and this is a powerful example of how the mind works–is that every single flaw these kids were presenting to me, I had seriously never even recognized or noticed about myself. In my world, I was perfectly fine, innocent and navigating just as I should. But after being stabbed by words that made me almost hate my parents for even birthing me and making me look the way I did, I began to truly view myself in a way of constant disapproval and criticism. I was seeing myself the way these kids did, and as an adult who has been so far removed from these events due to time and maturity, I still find myself hiding behind my insecurities and being reminded of my flaws.
Their story now became mine. Their reality was suddenly true. I would sulk around my house terrified to go to school because not only did I have to face my own thoughts, but I had to receive confirmation of how much I actually hated my thoughts because the chorus of hatred and criticism amplified my insecurities.
But, just like Hemingway took that moment to revise chapter 2 of The Sun Also Rises, or Hughes rethought I Too, Am America, or Salinger reworked The Catcher in the Rye, are we not as capable of finding the biggest mechanical pencil that exists, make a few corrections, erase what it isn’t working and rewrite our chapter? I’m not certain at one point assertiveness poured through me, but I finally understood that I am the only expert of my life therefore the only writer and editor of my life’s story.
And a story is just a story after all–if we don’t like it, we change it. If we’re not pleased with a chapter, that’s why books are comprised of at least 10 of them. And if we’re just not thrilled with the first edition or we feel that there’s more to say, that’s why series exist–push yourself to your next act, the following part. Remember, only you have the power to change your narrative. Don’t allow others stories to become yours, live through content that embodies your truth, your soul.
Now, go write your story.
May your revisions and editing be moving, revealing and inspiring!
Love and many blessings,
Darryn K. Robinson, CWC