Since the age of 13 or so, I have thought in narrative. Most people have some sort of inner monologue. Mine just thinks it is narrating a book. It started out as a rather self-conscious habit, a thing I started doing as I began to write my first (reeeeally terrible) novel. It was a kind of practice, I suppose, finding ways to make normal situations into something worth telling about.
As I got out of bed: “She woke up confused, still clinging to the remnants of what must have been a lovely dream.” As I waited for my mother to pick me up from school: “I was the last one left on the cement steps of the school. Well, me and the knot of boys by the beat up truck who were probably concluding a drug deal.”
Sometimes third person, sometimes first. Always in past tense, always a little over-dramatic.
Through the years since then, my inner narrative has stopped being a conscious habit. I don’t think I do it all the time, but I do catch myself at it now and then, and wonder if it makes me strange. I suppose we all ride one car or another on the Strange Train, though.
As my husband herds me into the car to go to work: “She felt about early mornings the way she felt about creamed spinach and steamed broccoli: they should only be used as punishments for especially heinous crimes.”
Perhaps the habit of thinking in narrative causes a person to be more prone to thinking that writing an autobiography is a good idea. I’ve always thought that autobiographies are the biggest ego parade it is possible to throw for yourself. Especially ones entitled “My Life So Far” (sorry, Donny Osmond). Gross. How vain must a person be before she thinks her life is so interesting that other people want to read about it?
Or maybe I’m just grouchy about celebrities whose egos are that big. If you’re already famous, can’t you wait for someone else to write your biography? Ordinary people, though, sometimes do live lives that are truly interesting. I didn’t care much for A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, but I loved Running With Scissors, and I loved the scandal about the difference between fiction and memory that swirled around A Million Tiny Pieces. (That’ll be another blog some day.)
It seems to me that you either have to experience momentous events or live in momentous times before your autobiography is worth writing. At least, if you want it to become a best seller. Or be helluva funny.
In the meanwhile, I’ll just keep narrating my day to day monotony and maybe someday, some bit will be interesting enough to include in my first bestselling novel. Haha. Just you wait.
“… she concluded, and clicked ‘Publish,’ hoping someone would find her inner narrator just a little funny. Or interesting. She could settle for interesting.”