My Tragic Gap Statement

snail between rocks
Brian Hogan

A tragic gap statement is a written statement you make that describes what you want and why you don’t have it. This was developed by author Sandra Marinella and I read about in her book The Story You Need to Tell. The format of the tragic gap statement goes like this:

I want to XYZ (fill in your blank) but I can’t because XYZ (again, fill in your blank). In my bi-weekly writer’s group of fellow Wayfinder Life Coaches we gave ourselves 12 minutes to write about our own tragic gap statements. The experience was illuminating for all of us and can be for you too. Try it! Come up with your own tragic gap statement and explore what is holding you back. And let me know in the comments or on my socials how it went. Below you can find my tragic gap statement and the poem I wrote about it. Enjoy.

BRIAN’S TRAGIC GAP STATEMENT: “I want to be a published author but I can’t because I don’t have an agent.”

This doesn’t feel tragic, but it certainly does feel like a wide and un-traversable gap. 

My mind seems to fully believe I will not get an agent, that I’m almost destined not to. But at the same time my innocent and hopeful inner child thinks that’s utter hogwash and I’m actually destined to get an agent, then a book deal, then another and another and another and end up squarely on the NY Times best seller list over and over again for record breaking numbers of weeks. 

So which is it? Is my destiny hopeless failure or unprecedented success? Or is the answer someplace in the bland and predictable middle-ground of grey and blah-dy blah blah blah?

I sure hope it’s something exceptional. I want to be the exception and the one who breaks the rule. That would rule! 

So how do I close this quickly more tragic-seeming gap? How do I get from unpublished 43 year old “writer” in air quotes to published best selling author declared without the slightest trace of irony or self-deprecation? 

I suppose it starts by querying agents. 

Actually, no, it starts with *eye roll* believing in myself. 

*shoves finger down throat as if to make myself barf. 

Not because I don’t think believing in oneself is important, it is, it’s of the utmost. It also sounds cliche, like I’m still in the middle of s sappy Hallmark sympathy card telling me “better luck next time, champ” and “winning isn’t everything.” 

Well, isn’t it? I mean, don’t winners just love when they win? 

And don’t losers hate it when they lose? 

And don’t air-quote writers wish they could drop the air-quotes and just be writers? 

And also not be broke? Or a joke? Or a crock? Or a laughing stock? 

But I digress. The question was how do I close this tragic gap? 

And the answer, despite my best efforts at dressing it up in distinctive and innovative language is the well-worn cliche: believe in myself. 

And then a slew of other cliches from the firehose of word vomit follow: 

-hard work

-don’t give up

-keep trying

-don’t lose hope

-learn from failure 

-failure is just feedback

-winners never quit

-quitters never win

And if I think of one more cliché I swear that’s some kind of mortal sin. 

So I’ll stop with the platitudes, shift my attitudes and send more queries despite my inner wearies.

And be the writer who stays a fighter until things feel lighter and I can fall in love again with my antique typewriter. 

I will drop my air quotes and my winter coats and clear my throats 

and declare myself a writer even if it’s just scrawling unpublished notes. 

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About Brian

About Brian

Brian is a Writer, Clarity Coach, Filmmaker and Adjunct Professor who loves teaching and learning, and living in the uncertainty of it all.




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