I've been thinking about stories lately. Often adults will dismiss stories as kids' stuff, Santa Claus, monsters under the bed, fairy tale princesses.
But even though most of us have outgrown monsters and princesses, we still believe in stories, even think in stories. I expect they're inherent in the human condition, our best way of processing our world.
Scientists are encouraged to tell the "story of their research" in their papers and presentations. Historians, journalists, and biographers shape real life into an accessible story. And most of us use stories to frame our lives into tales of hope, overcoming the odds, or destiny. Couples wonder if their boyfriend/girlfriend is "The One," or if after their marriage they'll live Happily Ever After. In the writing world, Chuck Sambuchino, for his blog Guide to Literary Agents, has a regular series of "How I Got My Agent" stories. We want to believe nothing is random, but all part of a larger story, with an understandable plot, leading towards something greater.
When I started searching for an agent, I shared my joy at finishing my novel, and vague details about my submission process. Partly I hoped I was chronicling a story with a happy ending that I could share weeks, if not months, later. I might still be doing just that.
But sometimes life doesn't work out like a story. We spend all our time waiting for our knight in shining armor, or our out-of-the-blue agent call, but nothing happens. Or everything happens when we least expect it. Or our knight in shining armor shows up, but the fact of the matter is that he's a turkey. So we start waiting again. And the in-between times, when life isn't like a story, and happy endings seem in short supply, can be all the more difficult. Sometimes it's easier not to believe in stories at all.
But of course, I'm a writer. I can't escape story! And stories give us hope, something to keep striving for, ideals, and heroes.
How do you deal with the non-story parts of your life, the waiting, the worrying, and the disappointment?