Monday, May 4, 2020

Microstory 1356: Self-Helper

Self-Help Superfan: It is such an honor to meet you, sir. I was a huge fan of your first book, and almost scooped the moon when I found out you were soon to release a follow-up.
Self-Helper: Ah, scoop the moon. I like the reference. That was smart, starting out like that. It proves that you actually read my book, and you’re not just BSing me.
Self-Help Superfan: No, sir. I would not have asked for this interview if I hadn’t read it twice all the way through.
Self-Helper: Well, that’s great. I’m glad it’s helping you.
Self-Help Superfan: Oh, it definitely has. I’m already finding so much more success in my career than I ever thought possible, and it’s all thanks to you.
Self-Helper: No, no, no. Don’t say that. The point of my book is to find out what you can do for you. You’re already the pilot. I just cleaned your engines.
Self-Help Superfan: Haha, yes, of course. On that note, why don’t we get right into it? Your first self-help book was entitled The Astronaut in You. This next one is called The Ocean Above You. Did you mean for it to be so poetic? First we go up, then we come back down, and explore the depths?
Self-Helper: Honestly, I didn’t give it that much thought when I started out. I didn’t plan it to be like that. I suppose that goes to show how much profound truth there is to what I say. First you want to get as far from your comfort zone as possible. It’s only then that you can gain perspective, and an appreciation for where you came from. It’s also only after that when you can really get back to your roots, and explore who you are inside.
Self-Help Superfan: Excellent, excellent. So, the first chapter—and I don’t want to give anything away for my listeners—starts out with the Astronaut splashing down into the ocean to begin the second part of their journey. That wasn’t planned from the start?
Self-Helper: No, I wrote the first draft of the whole second book before I realized I could connect it to the astronaut motif in that way. I had to rewrite a lot of the rest to make it make sense, but that’s okay, because I was going to do another draft anyway. It’s important to understand—and don’t think any of my readers don’t—is that the Astronaut and the Diver are just metaphors. I don’t know what other metaphors I could have chosen, but the point is they’re just tools to help you comprehend how you can change your life for the better. That’s not the say I chose them at random. There is a reason for it, and it’s because most people reading these books are neither astronauts, nor deep sea divers. This sort of allows everyone to be on an even playing field. We can all relate to the archetypes in about the same way. Well, not all; chapter four of The Astronaut in You talks about diversity, but you get what I mean.
Self-Help Superfan: Yeah, I totally get it. There aren’t a lot of readers who can relate to the character too terribly much, because if they did, they might lose the message.
Self-Helper: That’s right. It’s about the message, and I don’t just want people reading a good story about themselves. It’s only moderately fictional to keep people interested, and to get them to read it straight through. People often try to pick and choose what parts of a self-help book will help them the quickest, and they ignore a lot of good material because of it. It’s not a piece of fiction, but it’s not an encyclopedia either. You’re meant to go from page one to the conclusion.
Self-Help Superfan: Oh, I know I certainly did. Now, a lot of self-help authors have come up with life-changing advice based on their own past experiences. But you didn’t really talk about your personal life in the first book. The second one seems to suggest writing the first one was actually an exercise in itself. You learned the hidden tricks by trying them out?
Self-Helper: That’s exactly what happened. The first one started out as a series of letters to my therapist. I was so anxious around people back then that I never got out what I really wanted to say during my sessions. She suggested that I write my questions down. She intended to answer them in-person, but we kind of became pen pals. That’s why she enjoys a collaborative credit in the book jacket.
Self-Help Superfan: That’s amazing. I want to know more about her; as much as you’re allowed to say, of course.
Self-Helper: I can say quite a bit. How long you got?

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