September 8, 2015 by Gregory Josephs
About a Loser
Growth requires a process of change. A seed is nothing but stored potential until the forces of water, earth and heat conspire to penetrate its hard shell and force a germination. Through these external forces the germ has no choice but to swell, slowly devouring its kernel until it breaks through the tough exterior of its skin and pushes up through the soil toward the sun. It grows—cells multiplying and roots expanding—until the seed itself is nothing but a distant memory and a glorious flower resides in its place. Its the best kind of story—one of potential realized.
Its the kind of story I’m trying to tell.
I’m sitting here this morning trying to come up with the best way to show my protagonist Ryan as a seed. The Education of Ryan Gregori is the working title for my manuscript. Its supposed to be this grand coming of age story about a young man learning how to exist in the world. He thinks he knows who he is and what he wants, but in short order he’s going to discover he’s wrong. He is unrealized potential—something far less than he could become.
To begin with he has to be a loser.
Thats going to be difficult for me. In fact, thats one of the main reasons I can’t just jump right into writing Chapter Fifteen. The Ryan Gregori I’ve crafted over the last six years doesn’t have enough room to grow. I’ve written him as being too put together already—older than his years and doggedly self-confident in most respects.
In some ways thats a good thing because it reflects well upon my real-life journey. Especially in the beginning of this story he so closely resembles myself at his age. At nineteen I was confident about everything in my life (perhaps even when I shouldn’t have been), except when it came to dating. Thats going to be one of Ryan’s core inner conflicts—I think I did a good job of setting that up in Chapter One—but its going to take more than that to make this the kind of story you’ll remember.
At least to begin with, TEORG needs to be a story about a loser—a naïve young kid who isn’t certain about anything. I’ve got to strip away his self esteem and pull the rug out from under his feet. I started that in Chapter One, but if I’m doing my job right Chapter Two will present a Ryan Gregori that isn’t sure if he’s regained his footing.
So now I’m sitting here with an empty cup of coffee wondering if I should have another. I’ve been stewing and pacing all morning. Chapter Two is awaiting its revision and its taunting me. This is going to be difficult.
I guess you could say I’m suffering from a lack of confidence about this rewrite. It sounds like I’m in the perfect state of mind to start milling through these next 5,000 words.
I’d like to put it off. I’d better not—