Saturday, January 29, 2011

Who's Story Now?

You are sitting in a mini-banquet room at a hotel with several ice machines, an observation desk, and an exercise room, facing fifteen writers who are hopeful of advancing their projects to the point where they can send them out into the world of publication with some notion that they will pass the first obstacle, which is the obstacle of being read all the way through.


As you listen to these fifteen writers, and interact with your co-hose in this venture, a literary agent who once ran the editorial side of two major book publishers, it comes to you that this group is a good representation of the basic components within a group.  Many of them have a number of stories, others have only one, it is the most daunting story of all for a writer to cope with.  It is their story, the autobiography of them, up to this moment.  Their story will change.  If they do not change it, life will change it for them, perhaps to the point where their story will no longer be autobiographical but rather imaginative, innovative, evocative.  They will be able to take events from the reality in which they live, twist, bend, and shape them to symbolic events rather than reported, literal events. 

This is a freedom with a price tag attached or, if you prefer, this is the string of tin cans tied to the bumper of the car of a friend, intended to surprise and provide a moment or two of startling distraction.  If you follow the price tag analogy, the price is the energy and focus needed to fall in love with the event as you let it go from what it was, while shepherding it toward what it wishes to become. If you follow the string of tin cans analogy, you risk the consequence of the friend being startled and surprised enough to respond with irritation.  Either way is a winning way.  The thought of falling in love or arousing some form of disturbance is irresistible for the writer who has moved from self to story.

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