Wednesday, May 14, 2014

You Gotta Have Friends
I've been ruminating lately about life and friendship and how the two co-mingle. Yeah, I know. I'm deep like that.

Like Lucy Ricardo, I better 'splain. 

One of the ways I find inspiration when writing is by checking out famous quotes based on the themes in my story. In my current work-in-progress, I'm dealing with themes of the importance of a person's life. But when I started looking for quotes under the topic of "life," all I found were statements regarding peace and seeking contentment and some versions of placidity. For example:

"Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated." - Confucius

"Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life." - Mark Twain
"Remember when life's path is steep to keep your mind even." - Horace

Those are all profound and lovely, but I don't buy it. 

Oh, sure, maybe some days in life are like that: lying on a hammock beneath a palm tree, sipping a margarita and just swaying through the day. But to really live means so much more, in my humble opinion.

If you ask me, I'd say life is a gigantic party. It's bright and messy and heady. A well-lived life isn't about sitting under a leafy tree, seeking contentment while watching the world go on around you. It's about being involved, making a difference for others, and unpredictable constructive chaos. Life is for grabbing opportunities, holding fast to loved ones, and making memories that will last beyond our earthly existence. 

Some might see life as lady-like, all subdued and polite, waiting for someone to notice. Not me. I prefer to think of life as a biker dude with attitude, commanding attention. 

You come into the world screaming and hope you'll go out fighting. And the moments in between are the memories you make of the days you're given. And I'm pretty sure that when I'm on my deathbed, I won't remember too many of my quiet days. I'll be reliving the days where I laughed a lot or cried a lot, the moments that tested me, shaped me, and taught me something valuable.  

And this is where the friendship part of the equation is vital. While reviewing my past days, I'll be thinking about the friends I've had over the years. In particular, I'll focus on my true friends: the ones who stayed with me when my life was complicated and messy, not the ones who only stuck around while my days were grand and easy. I'll always appreciate those who say, "I've got your back" when I'm up against hard times and don't complain that I'm whining when I confess my pain to them. These are the people who matter to me--the people who've demonstrated time and again that I matter to them (not just for what I can give them or do for them but every day--good or bad.)

Writers tend to wring emotion out of words, but if you insist on living your life on an even keel, how can you write a story full of angst and pathos and (dare I say it?) drama? Because that's what readers want in their stories. They want the full gamut of reactions. 

Oddly, when I checked for quotes on death, the results were the direct opposite:

"I am not going to die. I'm going home like a shooting star." - Sojourner Truth

"If you're quiet, you're not living. You've got to be noisy and colorful and lively." - Mel Brooks"Millions long for immortality who don't know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon." - Susan Ertz

But I sincerely thank Hunter S. Thompson for this quote, which sums it up so well:

"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, 'Wow! What a ride!'"

That's how I plan to go--and I'll be thanking those friends who loved me and the drama of my life for riding along beside me.

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