I dragged Chris into this Creativity Workshop every Wednesday with this very post-modern emergent church group nearby. They do really great stuff, and (despite the fact that I was exhausted when I went last week) I enjoyed our first meeting.
Last week, we were given a bunch of random objects and were told to make something creative with them. Chris came up with a little man with a parachute. Keoke made a gas mask. Another girl made a crown. Mine was a little hard to describe, but it was rich with very personal meaning and I was bummed when I had to share with the entire group about it.
It's not that I am a private person, or that I hate talking in front of groups. Part of the discomfort was that this little group of Christians is really cool, in a way that I can never hope to be cool. They're Beat Poet cool. They are actual artists & musicians. They shop at thrift stores and have dreadlocks and don't bathe regularly because-- well because they don't have to. They're that cool.
I hate to paint them in the wrong light. They are very sincere, loving people. They love God in ways that challenge me, and they love each other generously. They just intimidate me ever so slightly. I think it's because I have always wanted to be artistic and edgy, but despite my nose ring & tattoo & red funky hair, I still shop at the Gap, and the extent of my artistic creativity lies in a blog and a few mediocre necklaces I've made.
Anyways, I digress. Our assignment for this week is to write a 1-2 page vignette about our lives in the third person. I think the idea is that when we take a step back and look at ourselves as an outsider or a narrator, we take off those harsh, self-critical lenses, and we can see our lives as a story that is good & full of meaning.
At first, I thought this would be great. I am much better at writing stories than at making creations out of cloth & plastic. But now I'm stuck.
I know that I have great stories to tell-- and I love telling them. The story of God bringing Chris & me together is amazing. I loved telling the story a few weeks ago about our old house and the meaning it had in my childhood. There's the story of me moving to the inner city, and getting chewed up & spit out, and learning to believe in myself again. There are so many things to tell.
I'm realizing that the hardest part for me is that (in my mind) all good stories are circular. They are the kind of story with a good ending that brings you right back to where you started, and tell you something about life, or show you how the character has arrived at some conclusion or reached a destination.
But I am not that character. I am still working on the ending-- so how can I write one? I am torn between wanting to write a story about the fairy princess who overcomes great obstacles and finds happiness at the end, or writing about myself like Nicholas Cage in Adaptation ("He sits down to write again: fat, pathetic, balding...").
I know that most characters are complex-- both a hero and a coward-- and that the good stories explore those complexities. But for some reason, it is so, so hard to do when writing about oneself. Especially when one is sharing it in front of thirty cool, hip, artistic types-- who probably wrote their stories in iambic pentameter.
I need your help, friends. What should I write about??