Make Your Story: The Nemesis

27 Apr

Make Your Story is a series of articles by novelist Barth Anderson about things you might consider when writing your life-story, autobiography, or when mining personal material for your art. 

In approaching your life story, you should consider that you might not know it as well as you think you do. Consider your own life the way you might consider a stranger’s. Consider it unknown territory. Terra incognita. If you don’t, you’ll miss diamonds hiding in the shadows and truths you never considered. Consider what you’ve never considered before.

Consider your nemesis.

I don’t think you can know your nemesis at a young age. The maniacal architect of your undoing shapeshifts so many times in the course of a life that you need 2 or 3 tragic demises before you see how your nemesis rolls.

Warning: A true nemesis doesn’t want merely to thwart you like a villain will do in a melodrama. Your nemesis is terrified of you. it fears you resurrecting so it pounces on your missteps, “crimes,” in order to humiliate and demoralize you. A true nemesis doesn’t ever throw a punch. It deceives you in order to convince you to never get up again.

Your nemesis will appear in the silence of a wakeful sleepless night, when you scold and abhor yourself most. It will appear when you think you are strongest, right in front of you, real as rain. Inside. Outside. Nightmares and stark reality. Both. To assume it appears in only one place or the other is to play into the nemesis’s shapeshifting game.

Is there a tell-tale clue that allows you to spot your nemesis before it begins its sadistic art? A sign or tic you’ve identified as belonging to the nemesis? A pop-song that plays in the background when you encounter it? A phrase that it can’t help but repeat? When you spot it, do you know that your demise is about to happen once more?

Consider this when approaching your o0wn life-story.


“Nemesis” by Albrecht Durer, 1501  (more info on the goddess Nemesis here)

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