|Photo Spread: Ms. Butterfly on Tumblr. Movie: 500 Days of Summer|
If anyone knows the feeling that reality never lives up to our expectations, it's writers. We rely on our imaginations to give us story ideas and interesting characters and plot twists, so it's no surprise that we also spend inordinate amounts of time imagining just how great our stories are going to be once they get on the page. Or at least, I do. It's writers who must deal with the constant disappointment of not having the words on the page come even close to the potential the story held when it was just in our heads.
I was talking to my mom about this the other day, and she said something which I thought made a lot of sense. When you think about it, the story in your head doesn't really matter. Sure, that idea is the catalyst for what you put on the page, but its importance pretty much stops there. After that, all that matters is the real story. That's the story that will be worked on and labored over. That's the story that will go through actual critiques and have actual readers. What's the good of clinging to what your story could have been when you have the real one right in front of you?
Of course you can tell yourself this all you want and it won't make up for the fact that the real story will never be as good as the imagined one. But maybe we should stop putting so much emphasis on the imagined story. Maybe we should shelve it in the backs of our minds once it's given us that first spark of inspiration and focus on the task at hand, which is learning to appreciate the real story, and the work that goes into it, even though it will never be the same as the one in our heads. This is all easier said than done. Still, I think it's worth a try. As Maureen Johnson puts it: Dare to suck. I'd also add: Dare to embrace reality. Even if it sucks. A lot.
If this post was helpful or confusing or you have more thoughts on this subject, don't hesitate to leave comment!