[Trish Ryan (He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Love, and Happily Ever After), — like many recent featured authors — admits to having a messy but interesting life. Ever likable, vulnerable, and oh so human, Trish shares both the joys and blahs of her first five years of marriage in A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances to be released on June 22, 2010.]
Thoughts on being the main character
Larramie asked if I’d blog about what it’s like to be the main character in my own books. Her question caught me off guard—I’d never thought about it in those terms.
You’d think it would take a surreal combination of determination and hubris to believe that your life is sufficiently unique and wonderful to keep people turning the pages of not just one, but two memoirs. But truth be told, not even I think my story is all that unique and/or wonderful. Just the opposite, in fact. Until fairly recently, it—and I—was a complete disaster. But here’s the thing: In the midst of my struggles, I always knew I wasn’t the only person out there wrestling with big questions: What is love? How do I get it/give it/absorb enough of it to keep going? Does God play a role? How much is my responsibility? How can I make better choices if I can’t think of any options other than what I’ve already tried? What if self-help doesn’t help? My books are about my search for answers.
I spent my twenties and early thirties in a dizzying try/fail cycle of dating that might be unique if only for it’s breadth and scope. I married so badly that I had to run away to escape. The police were involved on more than one occasion. At some level, I had to admit that not only were my strategies not working, I was out of ideas of new things to try.
The answer to this dilemma surprised me. It was spiritual, and way outside my comfort zone. That surprise—with the good results that followed—made up my first book, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Hope, and Happily Ever After. I thought that other women in my shoes (the ones who hear Stevie Nicks sing, I climbed a mountain and I turned around and think, “That’s the story of my life…”) might find it encouraging to have another option to consider, and comforted that the door hasn’t closed on Happily Ever After…It’s still out there, still possible.
My second book is about looking at these same questions from the other side of the alter, as a newlywed struggling to imagine a marriage better than the warnings I saw in books and magazines. Our culture makes you feel like a special little flower when you’re a bride, but the moment you’re back from your honeymoon, the fantasy wilts. No one tells you how awesome your new life will be; they warn you. You hear the phrase, “The honeymoon is over” muttered in low, dire tones. I didn’t think I was the only wife out there hoping that more was possible, and thus Book #2, A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances, came to be.
So perhaps my answer to Larramie’s question is that I don’t see myself as the main character in my books. As hokey as it sounds, I think LOVE is the main character—that urge inside of us that keeps us looking and hoping for romantic partnership far beyond the point when the more reasonable choice would be to give up, buy a cat and a condo, and find a few new hobbies. Most of us want more than pets and hobbies. As the band Sugarland puts it, “From the beginning, we’re all looking for a happy ending…” My books are about this process.
Thanks, Larramie, for getting me thinking about this question! And blog readers, let me ask you: How do you feel about being the main character in YOUR story? Would you re-write the script? Does your plot need a twist? Are you at the place where all hope is lost (which is, according to writing tradition across genres, ALWAYS when the hero arrives…)? Consider sharing in the comments below. You might not be the only one wrestling with these questions.
Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away a copy of the triple memoir Three Wishes by Carey Goldberg, Beth Jones, and Pamela Ferdinand in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Carey Goldberg, Beth Jones, and Pamela Ferdinand with Three Wishes. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is Wednesday, June 16, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to possibly claim your book.
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Thank you authors/friends/readers, all!