We’ve all heard the saying (if you haven’t, lie to me; I don’t mind): be the main character in your story. I think maybe it’s brought us a profound sense of deserving to be the main character… and has also led us to believe that being anything but the main character is somehow less.
I’ve decided I’m not the main character in my story. Why would I want to be, anyway? Some of my very favorite characters of all time were not main characters: Sam Gamgee from Lord of the Rings, Catwoman from Batman,
So why the fight to be the main character?
Maybe it’s because the current societal mindset is one of entitlement. You are entitled to be rich! famous! happy! blahblahblah!
We’re not entitled to anything.
I watched the movie Joy this weekend (largely because I wanted to watch the lovely J-Law; don’t judge). One quote stood out to me:
Don’t ever think that the world owes you anything, because it doesn’t. The world doesn’t owe you a thing.
This rang so true to me that I’ve been holding onto it for days now. The world doesn’t owe me anything. It doesn’t owe me wealth. If I want money, I need to go out and work for it. Different people will have different kinds of work, but, still, I shouldn’t go around expecting to win the lottery. Not that Figments can, because we aren’t human, but I digress.
I shouldn’t go around expecting I have the right to fame (or infamy). I have to work at connections and, because I’m a bit of an introverted Figment on occasion, I have to step outside my comfort zone if I want it. Reality TV (which is really just books that were rejected for a ludicrous plot) has taught us we deserve our fifteen minutes of fame. If I earn any fame at all, I want to have earned it.
Thomas Jefferson said:
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…
Read that last part carefully. We’re not entitled to happiness. We’re entitled to the pursuit of it. We’re not even entitled to good health, merely life. We are entitled to live, be free to make our mistakes, and do our best to carve out a little bit of happiness with what we’ve been granted.
And that’s all.
We’re not entitled to be the main character.
This does tie into writing. I never go into a book discussion planning to talk about my own books. Yes, this means that I miss a chance for my elevator pitch, but why would I pitch my own book when there are others out there that I enjoy reading?
It’s counter-intuitive, but I really hope there’s someone out there who will pitch my books, because I’m too busy being a supporting character in someone else’s story to worry about starring in mine. People like R.R. Virdi, who wrote Grave Beginnings and Grave Measures and has simply blown me away with his talent. People like Jeffrey Cook and Lee French, who are on a road trip right now, selling books all over the United States… and whose books deserve to be all over the United States. People like Renee Jean, who spends more of her time promoting others and working on anthologies for charity than she does pushing her own books.
I want to be their Sam Gamgee… but maybe with less hairy feet.
How about you?