I’m writing a screenplay that’s loosely (OK, maybe not so loosely) based upon my life. The lead character is, essentially, me. Except she’s cooler than I am, she’s more screwed up, she’s funnier than I am and she’s more of a bad ass. She’s me, but she’s more. She’s the me I wish that I could be.
As I’ve been writing, I’ve realized something: penning a story about a character that’s a hyper-realized version of myself is my attempt to re-write my life. I’m writing my girl into scenes that are thisclose to some of my actual life experiences, but I’m making them more exciting, more dangerous, sexier, and flat out more interesting than real life. This screenplay is becoming my own revisionist history, where my life is made more compelling (at least, that’s the goal) through added conflict and drama.
The opportunity to step into different shoes and experience lives that are more adventurous, bolder, and more on the edge than my own is why I like acting and it’s why I like writing. But sometimes I wonder if I’m spending so much time living in other people’s heads that I’ve lost sight of what’s really in front of me. I put my earphones in and daydream movies in my mind as I listen to music. I make up stories about people – both complete strangers and people that I know – because making up stories is fun. But am I so attracted to the fantasy version of life that it has eclipsed actual reality? And if that were the case, would I even know it?
The roots of this behavior began when I was very young. As a child, I spent a lot of time alone. Dad traveled a lot, drank a lot, and Mom was often sad and difficult to reach out to. My parents were loving, but – if I’m honest – they were emotionally distant and wrapped up in their own worlds and problems. I didn’t have siblings my own age so I grew up essentially as an only child, daydreaming up fantasy worlds and entertaining myself through songs, games and stories. If I felt like psychoanalyzing myself, I’d say that my early isolation is probably the very reason I became attracted to showbiz and the arts in the first place. My stories and my imagination were a coping mechanism, they were a form of self-protection, and they became my world.
I wonder about the fantasy/reality distinction in my non-fiction blogging as well. While the events I write about are all true and have all really happened, I wonder if I don’t make them sharper, more interesting, and somehow different than they actually are simply in the act of retelling them? It’s quite impossible for a storyteller to divorce an experience from their unique perspective on it. But if every single event, every single human interaction is filtered through experience, then is everything subjective and somehow, shaded?
Pablo Picasso famously said, ‘Art is not the truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth.’ By telling stories about my real life and turning them into art, am I somehow getting closer to my truth? Or have I simply become entranced by my own fiction?
Until next time, friends.