Thursday, December 13, 2007

Being the storyteller

As of yesterday I have in my head the following:

Hear the tale of Sonya, a geeky girl with large glasses, fights the evil snail-monster in the river Po.

Edward defeats the evil and heartless villain and marries beautiful princess Hassaname.

Pat goes to a funeral of her great uncle Mordicae and discusses the meanings of life...and stuff.

Gather round, gather round, hear the tale of the tender-hearted Emily who meets her true love and steals a spaceship from the Martian king.

I am suspicious of models, I am suspicious of questions, I am suspicious of the truth and I am suspicious of anything that seems useful or enjoyable. Hence I must be highly suspicious of THE WRITING OF FICTION by Arthur Hoffman. But I'm not. Hoffman was an editor and a writing teacher and henceforth we must not trust him or place any trust in his ability to aid writers. Writing is art, as you know, and cannot be taught and ought not to be sold. I trust him, in fact I am willing to place my sanity in his hands. Why? Because he is brilliant.

Until yesterday I knew that I wanted to improve my writing, that I was not perfect, and that I could do better if I put my mind to it. I knew that if I practiced show-don't-tell things would be better.

Yesterday I wrote because...(a) it is my natural reaction to an interesting or exciting idea or
(b) because things fell short of their potential and I wanted to reach stories that reached those places I imagined others to be going. Both are valid, and both are somewhat backward.

Taking into consideration the fact that nothing in creative process is sure or reliable and one cannot trust anything and all those silly disclaimers people love to make, I write because want a story. I find something inspiring or exciting or partaking in the greater realities of perfection and then I realise it is only in my head, but I want it to exist, so I make it exist.

This is reactionary writing, something is created in me and I desire to express it. Even if I generated the feeling in my readers I did not do so intentionally. But I will now.

What I forgot is that we are storytellers, I am a storyteller. When I write I should be creating those feelings in others, not simply reacting to them. Or at least I should spend the time that I am not reacting writing stories that make other people do so. The storyteller hangs against the wall or sits near the fire and calls to passers by, and a crowd of children gather around him when he declares he will tell them the story of how the great grandson of Heracles met emperor Justinian and fought in the Neco riots to protect the emperor from demon possessed heretics. It really happened you know – or not. Girl Genius does a very good impression of this, apart from being all together brilliant.

Then there was a little click and I understood. Of course, what else would you do but tell a story that people wanted to hear? Or at least that you wanted to hear? After the click I wandered around the house for a while, wondering how I could possibly be so blind as to miss that. Sympathy and curiosity, that is all. It may not be easy, and I am no better a writer for knowing, but I have a solid goal and that makes the world a much better place.

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