I think F. Scott Fitzgerald was probably a touch crazy. But Crazy sort of takes the lid off of the creative quotient, doesn’t it? Because Home Boy was a genius.
This quote by him, “What people are ashamed of usually makes a good story,” is intriguing to me. Because FSF must have had quite a few regrets tucked away. I mean, he was a “man about town” in the 20’s. The jazz age. Things were hot and heavy on the reg back then. Like, basically no one lived passed the age of 50 (including FSF who died at 44). Alcohol, drugs, unregulated activities…I’m pretty sure theses people were hood before hood was hood.
As I sit and think about this quote, I am struck by its truth. Not only because shame usually stems from a story with emotional highs and lows (which always make great material), but when you write about something personal, you write out of a different compartment. An experiential department. I think it seeps into the words of your story. They’re richer, fuller, truer.
I mean, who cuts a better album than a jilted lover? Think Coldplay pre-Gwenyth. AM I RIGHT?!
I have regrets.* People who say they have no regrets really baffle me. I wish I had made different decisions in certain areas. I wish I had learned certain lessons in a healthier way. I love who I am and where I am, but there are paths I wish I had stayed off, and paths I wish I had tried out. Some part of those “what if” plays into every story I write, and I let my characters explore those questions. Getting to do that is one reason I love writing so much.
What about you? Do you have regrets? Do you leverage them in your life? If not in writing, in helping others?
(*While YES, I do have regrets, I don’t live in shame. I believe God forgives me, and wants me to forgive myself!)