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The Postscript: “Rewriting My Story”

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I’ve been working on a script with a producer named Eli.
I’m going to perform a show made from pieces of columns I’ve written over the years. I’ve been looking for themes and ideas and stringing them together, and I thought I’d done a pretty good job, so I sent off a draft to Eli.
“This is not what we talked about!” Eli told me.
I was hurt. When we first spoke, I wasn’t sure what to write. I had a lot of ideas about different things. But, since then, I’d read a bunch of books about how to write a script properly, and everything I read said I needed to be focused. I needed to know exactly what topic I wanted to talk about and stay on track.
Staying on track is sometimes hard for me when there are so many enticing bunny trails along the way. So I’d spent the last few weeks tossing out all the stray ideas. I made the whole thing one streamlined thesis, and I was pretty pleased with myself—until I talked to Eli.
“You were going to write about all kinds of things, not just one subject!” he went on, not sounding happy with me at all.
“Well, yes,” I admitted, “but that was before I understood how important it was to find one main topic and stick to it and…”
“I like the other idea better!”
I didn’t know what to say. I don’t know Eli very well, but I respect him a lot. I thought he’d be pleased I had done all this research and was so much better organized.
“But the ‘other idea’ wasn’t really an idea!” I told him. “I just had a picture in my head of a lot of stories about different things that may or may not be connected.”
“I like that better!” he said.
So then I had to think. And I’ve been thinking ever since.
Because Eli wants this script to be something bigger than a few funny stories. He doesn’t want a single, easy-to-digest theme. Eli wants the whole shebang. He wants me to tell a story about how I see the world and why. He wants me to take the happy and funny and sad and the painful and mix them in a way that makes sense of them as a whole.
And he’s made me realize that we are all storytellers, telling ourselves our story every day.
We take stories from our youth and struggles we’ve had as adults and heartache and disappointments and moments of indescribable joy, and we make sense of them in a way that defines us—to ourselves. All the happiest parts and all the hardest parts and every part in between, all the things that happened to us and what we thought about them afterward and how they changed us and become the story of who we are.

And Eli is right.

There is no point in trying to tell one piece of the story. The advice from the books I read would be great if I had some terrific new idea about how to do something faster or cheaper or more efficiently—but I don’t have any ideas like that.
I just have this idea that it’s good to embrace our stories—because they are ours, because we have the power to tell them in a way that allows us to change and grow. We can use our stories to make the rest of our lives a little better and more compassionate.
So now I’m rewriting my story for Eli—and for me.

Till next time,
Carrie

Carrie Classon

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