Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Journey

Few of the longer-form narratives have as much built-in empathy in their dramatic genome than those relating to journey.  Characters journey away from something, toward something, through something, often with a goal in mind but just as often with no tangible target except to be quit of one thing and hopeful the benefits of reaching another destination will be rewarding rather than punitive or painful.

After you've spent some time on this remarkable sphere orbiting through this even more idiosyncratic galaxy, it grows more likely you will have made enough connections between persons, places, and assorted nouns to the point where one thing will strike you as a metaphor or symbol for a larger action.  Accordingly, you will begin to realize that any departure from anywhere to anywhere else is a journey and that most of the things we do during the course of the day can represent embarkation on a journey.

Starting a story or novel are sure points of embarkation on some journey of discovery and adventure; even a trip to the market is a journey of quest.  Approaching another individual is a journey, often with surprising destinations involved.

It is sometimes frightening, other times sobering, other times still of a wild, humorous nature to consider you had in effect embarked on a journey toward your own death scant seconds after you were separated from your mother, the cord snipped, your bottom smacked, your feet daubed with ink with which to transfer your footprints to the surface of your birth certificate.  You have experienced the death of some of those close to you, heard about the death of those who were influential in some way, noted with a potential of alarm the shortness of the sizzling fuse that is a metaphor for the lifetime of certain of your friends and acquaintances.  You have experienced many of the valedictory ceremonies, the funerals of those who respectively followed the faiths of Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism.  Mentors have died on you but their journey of mentorship continues as you find yourself asking yourself, How would Rachel have done this? How would Virginia portrayed this?

Much of what you have learned to date relates to journeys taken and not taken, reflected in the simple observation that overall, the salient characteristic of your journey should be to continue stepping off the curb or dockside or up the up ramp or down the down ramp or that ritual you variously associate with starting with a fresh computer screen or a fresh sheet of ruled note pad from Office Max.  Some of it comes from journeys involving the opening of a book or the closing of a book; any journey is a representation of what you wish to do for yourself and for any who might chance to read your work--take us somewhere we have not been before, showing us there something we had not seen in quite the same light, something we had been trying to articulate and were not quite able to find the precise words until now.

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