MARTHA THOMASES: Everyday I Write the Book
These are the Days of Awe. While that sounds like a World Wrestling event, it is, in fact, the ten-day period between Rosh Hashonah (New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). It’s a time to consider the previous twelve months, make amends, and resolve to do better in the year ahead.
It’s a good thing that it lasts ten days. In my case, not only do I have the usual apologies to make, but I need a little extra time to get over myself. This has been a good year. I have a job I love with people who are really fun, and we’re going to bring happiness to billions. I must be fabulous!
The Jewish God, whatever else S/He may be, is one heck of a storyteller. There is the part in the service where one prays to be inscribed for another year in the book of life. We all want to be characters in that book.
And that’s why I must resist the temptation to consider myself too fabulous. It’s not dramatically interesting to have a character achieve success and/or happiness in the middle of the story, then coast along to the end. If there is a Book of Life, I want to be around to find out what happens next.
Writers like to play God, and we like to think we’re clever about the way we move our characters around, putting them in and out of jeopardy. Comic book, science fiction and fantasy writers can be feel this way especially, as we can not only put our characters through the dramas and adventures humans experience, but we can also put them into space colonies, make them invulnerable to bullets, and magical wonderlands.
In fiction, we can have happy endings. We can punish evil, reward virtue, and settle scores by dumping on thinly disguised characters based on the bullies of our childhoods. Real life is rarely so tidy. We have to each locate our narrative thread and see where it takes us.
Is your life a tragedy? A farce? What are the underlying themes that recur through the decades? If you want your life to be a Jane Austen novel, but it’s more like Candace Bushnell, maybe you need to reconsider some of your choices. If you want to be Jay Gatsby, but feel more like Alexander Portnoy, there is still time to change your life.
There is a lot we can’t change. When we ask to be entered for another year in the Book of Life, we don’t get to be the Editor. You get your pages, and you have to make the most of them.
Martha Thomases, Media Goddess of ComicMix, hopes the Book of Life has audio so she gets a soundtrack.