The stories we tell ourselves

I think we all look back and wonder how things would have worked out differently. It doesn’t happen very often with me. I prefer to think about the future, and what I can do today to make it happen. When I do it’s often regarding a relationship, or a friendship, that I could have handled differently, or perhaps avoided entirely. The life I could be having right now if that one decision, or indecision, had gone a different way.

Today though I was recalling a time before I moved to America. I was living in Lancaster with my friends Ash and Laurie. I was running out of money trying to get by, and spending way too much on Newcastle Brown Ale and Warhammer 40k. I was working in a video game store, and I loved it, but it wasn’t enough. Even with Ash busking, the three of us weren’t bringing in enough to maintain our spending level. It really didn’t help that I’d spent so much money flying back and forth to America to maintain a long-distance relationship.

Lancaster Museum

I ended up moving back with my parents. I gave up on trying to make it on my own. In fact, now I think about it, deciding to give up like that probably didn’t put me in the best mindset going into my marriage. Just before I went back to my parents though, I’d been formulating a plan. I was going to set myself up as a story-teller. Lancaster had a small number of street performers, including my friend Ash, and I thought maybe I could be one of them. I would tell short stories and sell one-page copies of the stories. I already had a couple of characters figured out and had written a couple of episodes of their serialised adventures. I chickened out, and took the easy way out. Where would I be? Who would I be? If I had begun my writing career as a street performer in Lancaster, UK in 2002, what would my life now be like?

Would I still be in America? Would I have married Monica as planned? Would I have considered myself a writer already, and insisted that I continued to write in America? Would I be published by now? Could a stronger, more confident, accomplished me have made my marriage work?


Of course, it’s all meaningless now since there’s nothing I can do about it. At least not physically, but I can apply the lessons I’ve learned. I can also, of course, write about it. Would any of you like to see a series of stories based on personal alternate histories? It’s going to be tough to write about, but maybe it’ll help me to process some of the emotions still tearing me up about my failed marriage.

Or perhaps what I need to do, is just keep writing, about anything I want, and see what happens. Hoping that someone will sponsor me to keep it up. Or maybe I should sell short stories. Paper copies of short serialised stories, available by mail-order subscription. Or keep it all electronic and offer paying e-mail subscribers a monthly story? Probably better that way since I don’t have a working printer.

What do you guys think? This one’s not rhetorical. I really want to know. Of course if you think you have an answer to any of the rhetorical questions I posed earlier, feel free to answer them also. I’d also like to hear any “what if” you’d like to share. I love a good story!