This pandemic period will end up becoming a chapter in all of our lives. Have you thought what kind of chapter you want it to be? I definitely don’t want it to be one marked by isolation, since I had a few of those chapters early on in my life. This was long before I thought of my life as a story that could be revised to make it more meaningful.
When you’re a kid, your life doesn’t feel completely like your own, so it’s hard to feel empowered to make any kind of revisions. There are so many different ways to revise a story. You can change the plot. You can swap out some of the characters. You can create a different mood. The only thing you can’t really do is pick a different protagonist. You have to be the hero of your own story, just as I have to be the hero of mine.
I wouldn’t be intimidated by the prospect of being a hero, since it’s not like you have to lead an army into battle like you did in the olden days. There are a lot of different ways for modern heroes to express their courage. My mom expressed her courage the other day by dancing in her kitchen. I was proud of her for not letting the virus paralyze her with fear, since the life of a frightened person doesn’t make for a very interesting story.
Every story becomes much stronger when the protagonist pursues what she loves instead of avoiding what she fears. A challenge for most protagonists is to understand what is most important to them so they can realize their destiny. It is common for the hero to feel lost at some point in her journey. You don’t need to feel disheartened if you feel lost right now. Now is actually a good time to find yourself, since the world is in sort of a rain delay. As a competitive athlete, I welcomed rain delays when I was behind, because it allowed me to regroup and come up with a different strategy.
I actually came up with a different strategy as a writer during this pandemic crisis. My old strategy was to try to make up brilliant stories that would impress agents and editors. My new strategy is to write about my own story in a way that might help others make peace with theirs. Making peace with your story doesn’t mean that you have to like everything that has ever happened to you. It just means that you need to find a way to use what has happened to you. I once had a writing mentor tell me, “You have the perfect life for a writer.” It was the first time I had considered that I had the perfect life for anything. One thing I have come to appreciate about my life is that I have been blessed with wonderful mentors. It’s like whenever I needed wisdom, there was someone at the next corner waiting to share it with me.