Early last year, I was at lunch with a writer friend and we were attempting to encapsulate our mutual friends in short dialogues. By which I mean, finding the things that they say that kind of cover their general attitude toward life and experiences.
SP: It’s okay. You’re safe here. I’ll bring you honey-buttered scones and perfectly warm tea.
DL: Wooo! It’s taco night!
CC: I don’t know what happened, Officer. Suddenly I was robbing a bodega.
UE: We need to weigh all the possible ramifications of tea, taco night, and robbing a bodega.
We weren’t being mean, in any sense. We were attempting to encapsulate the essential character of the people we love (It’s something that all people do, probably, but writers seem especially prone to it. And that’s probably a topic for a whole nother post (as is the topic of the grammatical incorrectness of “a whole nother.”)).
Suffice to say, when it came time to distill me into a sentence, the sentence from my friend was this:
Shanna: ??? (TBD)
At first I thought she meant that she was still figuring my sentence out. And then I realized that she meant that WAS my sentence. That I was an enigma even to someone who makes a habit of creating and defining characters. That I was shimmering and shifting and fading even as I sat across the table from her. And perhaps more importantly: I’d been doing that the whole time she’d known me.
Ex partners have said that in a different way. They have wished I’d settle down, stop reaching, stop changing, stop stretching and growing. “Can’t you just be happy with what you have?” is something I’ve heard a lot in my life.
To which I say: I am happy with what I have. But I’m happiest when I’m exploring, growing, being challenged, looking forward to what comes next. I believe I only get to do this life once, and I want to make the most of it. I will never settle down, and I will never settle.
This is true of the way I live, but it’s also true of the way I write. I don’t stick to one genre or one style, I don’t keep to a single length or format. Maybe this hurts my career, to spread myself over so wide a platform (like butter over too much bread, if you will) but it saves my soul.
Changes are happening again. Big ones. Career ones. Life ones. Seismic cataclysmic upheavals of life and love and words and tales. I’ll share many of them soon, I promise.
In the meantime, this is what I’ve come to realize: If I’m a triple question mark my whole life, I’m okay with that. In fact, I’m delighted with that. The day that I am encapsulated in a sentence will be the day someone makes my tombstone.
And if I have my way, that tombstone will read:
Shanna Germain: ??? (TBD)
Kiss kiss bang bang, s.