All About You
My friend Lynn recently went to a workshop on soul collage—this is where you rip up magazines into small, jagged pieces of paper, cut out words, and use colored markers to create a mosaic of “whatever comes up for you.” The idea is that you will express spontaneously in your art, a hidden desire or a repressed secret that will change your life. The hope is that you will surprise your Honda-driving, gym avoiding, pinot noir-indulging self with what your inner psyche is up to. The hope is that there will be a revelation, a spiritual prescription of some kind when you finish all that cutting and pasting.
I do this kind of thing as well. I go to the occasional medium, psychic or get an energy reading. Every decade or so, I get my horoscope cast. I’m hoping that I’m going to learn something new about myself, that I possess, or am about to receive, some incredible gift. I want to hear that I’m an old soul, exceptionally wise and kind.
I want to hear someone with ties to an existence beyond this one say, “you are married to the love of your life” because don’t you always sort of wonder? Don’t you want that fact validated by some authority? I mean there are 7 billion souls on this planet. What are the chances you actually picked the right one? Seriously. Think about it: 7 billion.
What do I want? Who do I love? What hidden talents do I possess? Advertising genius David Olgilvy once wrote that the one promotion he could guarantee everyone would read is the one featuring the headline: “All About You.”
Every time you write a story, or invent a character, your real subtitle is “all about you.” That’s what your reader is looking for; “entertain me, but also show me something that illuminates a perhaps hidden piece of myself in this tale. Maybe I’m an unreliable narrator of my own life and it’s actually so very much better than the story I’ve been telling. Show me on the page, what I long for, the reason I can ‘t have it and… please, please, please… a way that I can.”
The collateral reward for you as the writer? Anything you want, begins with imagining it is so.