I have heard so many jokes about why you shouldn’t piss off an author. Everything from, “because they’ll write you into one of their books and then kill you off in some unique and interesting way,” to, “you just never know what their imagination will produce.” I always found it rather humorous that people had so much faith in my ability to be vindictive or seek revenge through my writing. But the ultimate irony is that those same people never seem to realize: they are the author of their own story and have far more power over that than I ever would writing them into mine.
That life is a book is an analogy we often hear. Certainly life is full of different chapters and while some of them are totally predictable – like moving from elementary school to high school to college or military service, etc. – others are completely unexpected – like having a car accident and being injured. It is equally certain that those chapters will have an overall “flavor” if you will: some will be happy, some will be sad, some will be challenging, some will be invigorating. Most chapters have more than one scene though and some of the scenes can have a completely different tone than the chapter overall. A happy chapter can have a sad scene and vice versa. A relatively boring or neutral chapter can have a scene filled with stark terror.
As we “read the book of life” though, we sometimes find ourselves alternately either very eager to turn the page or hesitating to do so out of fear or trepidation about what might come next. Sometimes our biggest challenge is just turning that page no matter what might be coming next. Other times our biggest challenge is in not turning pages too fast!
So, here’s an interesting question: what happens when you turn the page and it’s blank? Have you ever stopped to consider the reality that you write your own book of life and while others may impact it, circumstances may mold it, you are the author and every page is blank until you write it!
That reality begs another question: what kind of book are you writing? The best books all have a mix of genres. One of my favorites from well-known horror author, Stephen King, mixes science fiction, horror, drama, love/romance and action. Isn’t that kind of how life is? Or at least should be? My own book of life has all of those components and, most interestingly, I look forward to seeing which will be included in the next few chapters!
Too often we get stuck in a rut. We feel like our life is on hold (of sorts) or that our job is keeping us from moving forward… whatever. You have the power to change your story any time you want. While we can’t go back and change the chapters that have already been written, we absolutely have the power to plan the chapters ahead and start writing them. Did the main character in your book (you) not get that degree s/he wanted? Write that in starting in the next chapter. Is your primary character interested in living at the beach and loves to surf but never has (in the previous chapters)? Write that in and start planning how your character is going to get there. Is your primary character an aspiring author with a whole novel planned out but never seems to get past the first page? That’s an easy one. Start writing!
The truth is that very few first drafts turn out exactly the way the author intended and it’s the same with life. We make hundreds if not thousands of attempts at accomplishing a task or creating a set of circumstances and a seemingly endless number of things get in the way or somehow affect our success rate. My thought is, “So what?!” I’ve only got another 100 or so chapters to write which equates to thousands of pages. I’ve got plenty of time (as far as any of us know) and the ability to plan those chapters out. My story will end up the way I want it to be and you know why? Because I’m the author.
I know the author well. I know the kind of person he is. I know how he thinks and what motivates him. I know the things he enjoys, doesn’t enjoy, and will work hard to have. I know his discipline (and laziness) levels. I know his level of motivation from one moment to the next. I know what he’s capable of and what he wants to be capable of. You know all that about the author of your book of life. Knowing you as well as you do, it should be fairly easy to have confidence in how your book will turn out. And if not, you need to have a heart to heart talk with your author and explain the realities of life. It’s far easier to write a great novel when you believe you can.