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Everyone Has One Good Book in Them Part 1

“Everyone has one good book in them” is a phrase that we often hear.  When I researched who might have said it first, I found an article from Interesting Literature and the following information: It’s perhaps most familiar to readers as a Christopher Hitchens witticism. Hitchens (1949-2011) was a hugely influential journalist and public intellectual, known for his quick mind and sardonic put-downs. The QI Book of Advanced Banter compiled by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson quotes Hitchens: ‘Everyone has a book in them and that, in most cases, is where it should stay.’” So, of course, we should have known that it would be Hitchens who gave it the witty twist.  We miss him for many reasons, don’t we? It is probably true that every life story is worth telling. Even the dullest or most serene human being has complex layers of fascinating contradictions.   word "ideas" So, in concert with the thought that there is at least one good book in each of us consider this quote from Neil Gaiman,  “Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that – but you are the only you.”

Everyone’s Story has Interest

Because I am a  mental health therapist, friends ask me if I get bored listening to people and their problems.  The answer is no; I am totally riveted. I have been for more than 25 years of practice. When I hear what my clients say, I am fascinated, surprised, intrigued and impressed.  This is the case with my clients, but sometimes also with myself. I should know myself pretty well by now since I have an inquisitive nature and some training and experience. But, in fact, sometimes my own thoughts, imagination are not entirely understood by me. That is a little bewildering, but it illustrates how intricate we are. The point is, we are layers and layers of complexity, and we can use this depth as endless resources for writing our stories.

Journals Are Key

Which brings us to another point about writing and therapy. Like many in my field, I often recommend that a client begin journaling. Why?  Because it helps get feelings and thoughts on paper. It places the issues slightly outside yourself, where you can examine them. It gets some of the emotions out where they can be expressed in a safe ( assuming you keep it private) place.   Journaling helps you understand how you operate. It gives you a history of your progress. You can look back on harder times and realize you are feeling better. If you keep it for long enough, you will discover patterns of behavior.  For writers, it can be a great resource of ideas later on, and it can be cathartic.

We are Social Creatures

As a species, we are interested in people’s stories.  We are social animals, and we tend to be more interested in stories about each other than any other topic. This is becoming more challenging as technology divides us. Perhaps it has become more important than ever for us to tell our stories as a means of connecting. Even though technology divides us, introduce a topic about a human story and our interest is aroused. cursive writing Stories prevail as our taste as a society leans towards being fascinated by each other. Ever notice that you might get bored watching the Olympics? You never even heard of curling. All of a sudden, when the announcer mentions that the defending player’s mother nursed her daughter back to health just in time for this event, and she and the family dog are in the bleachers, you are hooked. You might not love curling, but you want to see this girl bring home the win.   My partner is a huge basketball fan. When my significant other thinks I have had about as much college basketball March Madness can serve up, he throws in some human interest story about a player, and I immediately make a second bowl of popcorn and lean in. I contend that If we randomly had a deep and honest conversation with almost anyone we know, chances are we would find something compelling about their story.  This should give any writer solace; it means there is a never-ending resource for you to excavate. It means you can pull things up from your own nature that will resonate.  What are your thoughts?

Telling the Story is Another Matter

We will discuss this aspect next time in Part 2, which will be published on November 7th.  


  • Post Author
    Red Scorpion Press
    Posted August 26, 2019 at 8:04 pm

    Thank you for your comment, Michael. Yes, we have to agree that everyone is certainly freer to express their points of view digitally and through various forms of printed publications. I believe that Hitchens was rightfully concerned with the morass of jumbled thoughts that we are inundated with every day. It has been estimated that the average internet user consumes up to 34 GB of info every day! So it might be easier if few er people throw out things that have not been fully thought through so there is less of a din wade through in finding something that could be truly transformative.

  • Michael B Stewart
    Posted August 25, 2019 at 9:24 am

    My major issue with browsing the internet is far too often finding stuff from many years ago with a few comments and then left “unattended” even if a particular post/article were much more relevant to something in the present time and space!
    My other issue is that there is also mostly so very little “committed” discussion! It is more frequently like such posted comments were akin to shouting out while one is exiting to work, to lunch, errands… whatever! Generally with little for-thought at all! And most especially with whatever forever evolving cliches can shorten the “thought”!
    Thank you for your patience! Now I shall give you my “coup de gras”! Though you will not be the recipient!!!
    There have always been those that impress us with stuff that could only possibly come out of a “superior” god-graced intellect! Such an example might be Christopher Hitchens… or perhaps even Oscar Wilde! Yet just as the humour we are in-undated with today we surely have the wisdom to ponder our situation (whatever it is) after the first laugh! After all comedy is the most serious (acting) business that there is! You know what I mean!
    Hitchens was not being sarcastic so much as offering us a way out of our personal demise!!! “…and in most cases, is what it should stay!” Without further knowledge of Hitchens I would still wager to guess that he was more concerned for an environment which we are now facing due to the internet and a more “global world” than he was for people actually writing and “publishing” their books. That he was REALLY concerned that people not take the time to write their book… rather using cliche and copy of other’s thought and experience rather than their own REAL LIFE!
    Prove me wrong! If so I guess Christoper Hitchens had a “sadistic” sense of humour!!!!

    Above all thank you all very much for sharing this historical perspective and how to incorporate such ideas in to the present realities!

    • Michael B Stewart
      Posted August 25, 2019 at 9:46 am

      OOPS! I goofed on paragraph 4 last line!!! I should have included the full quote:
      “Comedy is a serious business. A serious business with only one purpose–to make people laugh.” W. C. Fields
      However that said… It is easier to leave the last part out of this quotation to get the questions stirring within our intellects! (Not implying that it takes a lot of work to be a comedian (comedienne) but that the process in itself is “…very serious business”!

      Yes! Comedy helps us face the most traumatic difficulties of human life. When we LAUGH we also often CRY! We depart these moments of “comic relief” weakened of that incredibly efficient capacity of our human nature to deny abuse, pain, anguish, anger… so-on and so-on! At least for a moment we are set free! We are no longer living subjects the the greatest suppression of all… that which comes from within!!!

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