When I was little, I had imaginary playmates. I talked to them. They followed me around. I was never bored because I had friends who really understood me. After I started school, my shadow friends left, never to return. Instead, I got a narrator who has been my lifetime companion. Whatever has gone wrong in my life, I suggest you blame in on the narrator. It’s all his or her (or both) fault.
“Narrator?” you ask. Before you decide I’m schizophrenic, a lot of writers have one or more narrators. I understand the narrator is my voice. He has just one story to tell. Mine. My job is to live. His is to tell the tale. His is the eye that sees all but isn’t involved. He witnesses — but causes nothing, changes nothing, makes no suggestions except to correct grammar. I wish he were a better proofreader.
My narrator does not instruct, chastise or judge. He or she records, remembers and fills in the back story. I’m in charge except I can’t always get the narrator to shut up. He gives me a third person perspective on my world. I’m so used to hearing a running commentary, I don’t know how else to see things.
There are narrators and then, there are narrators. You can get into serious trouble if you forget the narrator is you, not some other being. Should you find yourself listening to a narrator who’s telling you to blow things up or kill people, you might want to see someone about that. Of course if you are sure it’s God talking to you, who am I to interfere?
Through the years, the narrator has filled the holes in my life story, adding “He said, she said,” describing action and scenery, “novelizing” reality. I wish he could type. It would save me so much work. A couple of years ago, the narrator left for a while. It was a particularly turbulent period, so maybe the noise in my head was too loud and I couldn’t hear him. Eventually, he came back.
The narrator is distracting and I have had to learn to not let him derail me. He does not respect the moment. A running commentary in one’s head during sex makes it difficult to focus. Men take this personally and trying to explain always makes it worse. They think you are not merely disinterested, but also nuts.
A narrator can take the fun out of parties. You have to make an effort to participate, not just observe. With the narrator describing the surroundings and each person, occasionally arguing with other narrators (sometimes there are many), it’s tricky to connect with people. When narrators argue, I have to step in, settle the dispute, tell all but one to shut up. The problem is, there’s more than one way to see stuff and when a lot of points of view clamor for attention, it gets noisy in the brain-space. It can keep you up at night. It can keep your partner awake too
I’ve learned a lot from my narrator. I’ve learned to see life as an endless story with chapters, back stories, weird incidental characters, tragedy, romance, hope and despair. My job is to live it and not forget to write it down. And fix the typos.