Story of the Story

My name is Matt.  I grew up reading things like Calvin and Hobbes, the Far Side, and Shel Silverstein.  One of the first stories I wrote was a little piece inspired one of the less common Calvin characters called Tracer Bullet.  He was a detective in a noir-y setting.  I don’t actually recall the name of my detective.  I do remember that the villain was a guy named Garcon who wore a tuxedo and white mask.  Hmm.  Now I’m sad I can’t remember.  I was pretty young, maybe 15.  Maybe younger.  It was hand written in a notebook or on loose leaf.  Ah well, it might come to me some day.

The start of writing for me really came when I started reading.  A friend in High School, junior year, told me to read a book.  She handed me Harpy Thyme by Piers Anthony.  I devoured it.  Literally the first book I ever read for pleasure.  I never stopped from there.  I’ve read maybe 20 of Piers Anthony’s books at this point.  I picked up other authors.  David Eddings, Neil Gaiman, Larry Niven, Michael Crichton, C. Dale Brittain (she writes my all-time favorite series called the Wizard of Yurt series), George Orwell (1984 is my all-time fave book), Lemony Snicket, a little Terry Brooks.  My writing took an obvious turn into expansive high fantasy stories with no possible end in sight and tons of unnecessary characters.

By the time I was almost 30, I’d matured enough to complete some stories.  I’ve self-published two of them.  After I self-published my novel called Glyph Writers: The Wish Glyph, I struggled to find a voice again.  I did finish a sequel to the novel, but it’s sitting unedited on a drive somewhere.  Everything else I’d attempted hit a block.

Then my life took a little change in direction.  I started reading a book called Living Dharma that highlighted 12 interviews with Theravada Buddhist masters.  Buddhism became something important to me.  The Buddhist that I took to the most was a man named Achaan Chaa.  In his answers, he spoke about mindfulness, being centered, recognizing suffering, all the normal Buddhist topics.  But what stood out to me about him was his approach.  Every answer he gave had a theme.  Mindfulness is only the destination.  There is no right or wrong way to get there.  Some people might sit on the floor and meditate for ten hours.  Some people might meditate while exercising.  The path is yours to choose.  But if you find mindfulness, if you center yourself, if you recognize suffering and rise above it, then the path is correct no matter what it is.  So this got me thinking.

I changed.  This philosophy helped find evenness.  In being even, even keeled, even minded, balanced.  In being balanced, I found myself accepting everything around me.  Not only did that include other people, but it included myself.  I looked at myself differently.  I discovered that I was a little different than I used to think.  Deep in my mind, in my heart, I met myself anew.

To generalize, I became accepting.  Acceptance, I believe, is the key to all things.  I could go on and on about it, but I’ll leave that for another time.  Anyway, acceptance is the theme of Misophonica.  It’s about people accepting each other and themselves and finding love.  Because I believe that once we learn acceptance, the result is love.

So I started writing a story about Elliot, the protagonist in Misophonica.  I had a singular thought of “what if…”  It grew into Misophonica, but not initially as a script.  I started it as a novel, as prose.  The blocks were unrelenting.  I couldn’t grasp a narrative that suited the story or these characters.  So I pivoted.

I looked up how to format a script, I used existing scripts as guides, and I turned Misophonica into a script.  And I absolutely love it.

I love small stories that have a lot of heart that don’t last long.  I love movies like The Last Kiss, Manchester by the Sea, I’m really excited for the Big Sick, because these are compact stories, that don’t take place across a giant time line, that reduce the small cast to dealing with an emotionally charged situation.  I love that stuff.  I like to think I’ve captured that in Misophonica.

So there you go, everyone.  The story of the story.