ToBS R2: ‘everybody has a story’ vs. following several thousand people on twitter
[Matchup #37 in Tournament of Bookshit]
‘everybody has a story’
Right off I’ll bypass the obvious sphincter analogy here and instead say: I’m willing to embrace this everybody-has-a-story-notion as a hypothetical. At an abstract level, it speaks to the unlimited potential for human creativity, the idea that if we turn inward long enough and well enough we can eventually locate and activate that nascent Shakespeare hidden in all of us. Okay, pretty trippy, but sure. It all reminds me of that psychedelic scene from the gnostic gospel of St. Thomas when Jesus turns to his disciples and says: “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” Of course it’s not the easiest of orders if what you’re attempting to bring forth is serious literature or great art. With stakes like that suddenly self-destruction seems not only possible, but plausible, maybe even inevitable. This, I suppose, is why it seems like so many of our best scribes are bad livers with bad livers. In saecula saeculorum.
I used to be under the spell of the-writer-as-holy-lush-idea (not my idea—I stole it from someone, though I can’t remember who) and mostly I went around making mistakes. One of the mistakes I made back then was going around telling new acquaintances I was a writer: people on planes, drunks in dive bars, women I was attempting to bed, or just about anyone else who asked me what I did. I wanted to seem interesting, so I said I was a writer. I wanted to be a writer, so I said I was a writer. Ironically, I’d written nothing more than a collection of non-sequiturs scrawled onto the backs of cocktail napkins I’d pinned to the fridge––but hey, I read a lot and drank a lot and felt depressed a lot and possessed an Appalachian-sized ego so I figured it was only a matter of time before I buckled down and wrote something boss. Yes, I was a walking douchebag cliche in every way. I won’t lie. Granted, to my credit, I didn’t wear a ski vest or an Hawaiian shirt or smoke cloves outside of cafes while rifling through Rimbaud, but I admired those fellas. Those motherfuckers were cool. I digress.
The only reason I bring any of this up is because a funny thing usually happened back when I was in the habit of telling people I was a writer. Here’s what happened: 9 times out 10, whether the person I was talking to was a biker or a brain surgeon or an indie rock vixen, that person would pause and say, “Really? A writer, huh?” Then the switch would flip. “I write a little bit myself,” they’d say. “I’ve got this great idea for a novel.” Or some would say something worse: “I think I have a novel in me.” (Man, isn’t it awful to picture a novel inside of someone? I envision it hard bound with a bitchin’ cover and lodged in the author’s stomach region as seen on an X-Ray screen.) “I hope it’s a slim novel,” I’d say.
And then along came an unending synopsis of their story. Their story. Every single one has a story to tell, or so the song says, but I don’t know. It’s as if we’re supposed to look in the mirror in the morning and see an unwritten memoir with film option rights. Everybody has a story. Okay, maybe, sure, but I get caught up on that word “has.” It implies a certain ownership I can’t abide. Stories aren’t property. They aren’t children either. However, they are born from work. Hard work. And if you work hard enough and long enough and tell the fucker with some charm then maybe some folks will listen. I will.
Anyway, what I’ve found is that writing is an aspiration for not just the boozy, the youthful, or the walking wounded of the world––but for everybody (so long as you want it bad enough). And while there are some greats that fall into the former categories, they’re mostly late-greats these days, and they’re not the rule but the anomalies. For most of us who care to move beyond swapping stories with the drunk on the next stool at The Bar You’ve Been to a Thousand Times Before the work is tedious, requiring care and dedication, honesty, bravery, and just plain old time.
Everybody has a story but few will tell them long enough or well enough for folks to hear.
following several thousand people on twitter
Following several thousand people on Twitter is the networking equivalent of following your ex to Burning Man.
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WINNER: ‘everybody has a story’ in quadruple overtime.