We should be living our own Great American Novels!

by Rachel Baker on December 5, 2007

A couple of weeks ago, I let you know what I thought about Maya Angelou’s “I know why the Caged Bird Sings.” I thought one of the reasons why I wasn’t too impressed was because that book is only one section of the complete autobiography. I decided I’d read “the Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou.” This way, I could just continue on reading through each book without a time delay.

I want to continue reading with the next book, “Heart of a Woman,” but here’s the thing…I think I’m done with biographies and autobiographies for a while after this. I just couldn’t read this one as I did some of the others I’ve read over the past year.

I started thinking about some of the auto/biographies I’ve read over the past year. Trying to figure out which ones excited me. There were always parts when I thought – “oh come on, get on with it already.” Each auto/biography I’ve read has the same basic parts – tragedy, fulfillment, happiness, contentment, and inspiration. Sometimes the tragedy is at the beginning, sometimes its at the end, and more often than not, its all throughout the book. Its not the story that excites me, its the historical background.

I started to wonder, if someone were to write my life story, how would it be structured? What parts would be considered tragedy? What parts would be inspirational? Would there be fulfillment and happiness or would I be more tragic than the events in my life? Would someone look at my life and be inspired with how I lived it? Would my life be read for the historical background of the time I lived in? or would my life be read for the mark I left on the world (or just my little piece of the world)?

Is someone going to write my biography? Yeah, probably not.

I challenge all of you to think about this in regards to your own life. What story are you living? What is a biographer going to write about your life 50 years from now? Will s/he focus on just the events surrounding your life? or will s/he focus on how these events shaped the person you became and how inspiring you lived your life? Or will s/he decide you were too blase to write about?

Seriously, ponder this for a while. Live the great American novel, don’t just read it or write it… LIVE IT! If you aren’t living the best story in the history of time yet, figure out what you need to do to make it so. Don’t let a biographer use your life to showcase the history of the times. Leave him/her a real story to tell. Make it inspirational!

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