May I Borrow a Cup of Angst?

So. That was a successful evening of socializing, working out, and even writing a (very) little. Tomorrow morning, I’m off to get my hair Margo-ized after a summer of her maternity leave. Yeah, I am so ready.


Well, I read Amy Sundberg today. Her blog on Life as a Dream, Life as a Fairy Tale is pretty first rate. And you know, like a good blog entry, it got me thinking.

I’ve always been a believer in shaping your own destiny and becoming what you dream. No, I’m not about pulling yourself up by the old bootstraps. Rather, I am about living and enjoying life, and being what I want to be. Sounds really, really easy, right? 🙂

Funny Amy should use the fairy tale analogy. I have thought of myself as a fairy tale figure before. (Step aside for my pretension.) I wrote a series of entries thinking about my background called The Standard Bearer last year, and I’ve always felt that I was more of a Don Quixote figure than anything else. Or perhaps a girl who was adopted by trolls and discovered she wasn’t a troll. Or a troll, maybe, who learned that she could act like a girl, and people wouldn’t notice.

Or there’s the Dickensian way of thinking of myself. Pick any one from the number of wretched, mistreated children in Dickens who do right, and you’ll probably find me. And I must admit, a lot of early Dickens reading warped my moral image. I often thought of myself as a British gentlemen. Well, British girls were kind of passive.

But the thing about the character who overcomes is that you have to…overcome. Lot of work in overcoming. Hard work. Training yourself to be the thing you want to be. Learning a new culture, like. Does our hero and heroine have a goal worth achieving? Is there a happy ending to the story? Is it necessarily a story of transformation? Can we interpret our lives to have iconic meaning?

I have come from squalor and pain into a happy marriage and a rewarding career in which I help others. That’s…pretty epic. I do my art, and I get support to do it. I wouldn’t be the person that I am today if I hadn’t come from where I did, and while I’m not saying I’d like to do that again, well, there are lessons to be learned from that background that make me a better person, because I won’t repeat those mistakes.

So, yes, I’m going to say that it’s a good narrative. That life is a story, and you are at the center, and sometimes life is like that Dickens novel. David Copperfield does get out of the cannery and gets to write his own autobiography. The girl meets a great boy and they do live happily ever after. It can be that simple. You don’t see the transformation, and the transformation isn’t easy, but hey, you know, the life worth living is the examined life. And the grateful life.

That means, I guess, I have to borrow a cup of angst. Because today I am all out.

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

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