We all know what we want—whether it’s true happiness, love, a bright future. We just don’t know how to get it.
At least, not right away.
Especially when we’re often saddled with so much emotional and mental baggage that it’s difficult for us to move on, like, really move on. That’s because I think we often start out in this life believing a lie that is fed to us—that we’re not pretty enough, smart enough, not the boy or girl our parents truly wanted, just not… enough.
Sometimes it can be just one lie. Sometimes it can be all of them.
This was my lie: I grew up being told I wasn’t pretty enough, that I was fat, and that our dad didn’t want us, his other two children while my older brother got to stay with him after his divorce from our mom (temporarily). I grew up believing it was my fault, that I must have done something that made him send us away to this new place where people berated my mom for failing at her marriage, who reminded her almost every day in some way that she wasn’t good enough, too. And like cooties, lies get passed on.
I think it’s these ‘wounds’ that have made me a decent storyteller. At the very least, it taught me where to start the story. Because stories, at least, my stories, are like that. It’s from years of listening to that voice in my head that told me I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, or that I didn’t deserve the love I was getting, and that one day they’d find someone better because damn it, wasn’t that what always happened?
And so, unconsciously, long before I read writing craft, plotting, and outlining books, I knew where each story started. It works especially well when the voices inside your head don’t have anything else to say but the same things over and over again like a broken record, ungrateful tenants who never pay their rent but you let them stay anyway because you’ve gotten used to their message. Better their negative garble than the silence.
The challenge was getting
myself my characters out of believing the lies they’d bought for so long until that moment where they’d learn the truth—their truth—that the things they thought were true all that time were not. Instead, their new truth, the one that was always there was this: that they’re beautiful. They’re smart. They’re brave. And they deserve all the best things life has to offer them.
In fact, here’s a secret: in my stories, the love connection with someone else is really just the bonus.