People keep telling me I should write a book. I’ve been told this before by a minuscule number of people who find me amusing, or whatever. But lately, more specifically, people have been telling me I should write a book about a very specific chapter of my life. And it is a good story. Everyone agrees, it’s a good story. I’ve been told I should write it by people who would end up being characters in the story, because they directly participated. I’ve been told I should write it by people who were just interested bystanders, who would occasionally call me up in the midst of the madness that was ensuing and ask for updates; people who told me my life was their favorite reality television show. I’ve been told I should write the story by people I tell the story to now, long past the denouement. It’s a good story.
But the problem with writing it, and what I’ve been trying to work out, is I don’t know who I should write as the hero of the story and who should be the villain. Which is what a lot of the waffling ruminations of the last week has been about. Because it’s my story of course, so the natural assumption would be that I would write myself as the hero. But that’s not a very interesting story to me. I find myself boring. I know my motivations, I know my rationalizations, I know my plot. I triumphed, I won, yawn. To me, the interesting part of the story is the part of the story I don’t know- The story of my Arch-Nemesis. I know what they did, I know their actions, but I don’t know the motivations or the reasoning that led them to making those decisions. I don’t know what their thought processes were that took them to that moment in time. I don’t know the rationalizations they made to themselves as they walked that path. It’s like looking at a photograph of a scene where you’re a central figure, but still not knowing the truth of the moment that was captured. And when you don’t know, you can write the story however you want. But what I do know, without question or doubt, is in the mind of my Arch-Nemesis, they were the hero, trying to save the world from corruption and I was the Villain, hellbent on destroying The Shining City.
And the most interesting story is the one we tell ourselves. The one where, if you really believe your cause is righteous, you can commit vast quantities of wrong and enormous amounts of villainry and defend the doing of it. We’re all unreliable narrators when we’re telling out own story and justifying ourselves. Because you’re the good guy in your own story. Because the bad guy had it coming. They deserve it. Heroes cause an awful lot of collateral damage defeating the bad guy. Everyone always believes that they are doing what they had to do; they were pushed into it, circumstances being what they were. How much collateral damage is acceptable to win a war? What are your own personal standards when it comes to jus in bello? How many lines do you have to cross before you accept you may not be the hero of the tale?
That’s the more interesting story to me and also it would be amusing to write myself from the perspective of someone who is having to deal with me, when I am in the process of irritating them to the point where they lose all grip on reason. But the reality is, I don’t know if I will ever write that book. Writing a book takes dedication and I’m a devout dilettante. But then again… it really is a good story.