Friday, May 27, 2011

The Writer as Secret Sharer

Two words worth your consideration today--every writing day--are "mystery" and 'secret."  To give them due respect, see them set against the landscape of discovery. While you're considering these parameters,you might also pause to consider some index of progress by which, much as you monitor your bank activities, you are able to plot the extent of your discovery.

How many mysteries piqued your curiosity?  How many of them led you to some discovery about their content?

As a species of writers who are discoverers, we read to discover the mysteries and secrets embedded in the text of others, whether these texts are investigations of, say, who killed Cock Robin, or, in fact, your own book, aptly titled Secrets of Successful Fiction Writing?

Reading was presented to you at an early age as a key to unlocking the mysteries of successful navigation of the reefs and shoals of our culture, of cultures past, and of the imagination and energy with which those cultures are fraught.  Somewhere along the path your early reading took you upon, you bought into many of the dynamics of prejudicial response, needing some considerable time before it began to occur to you that you could neither believe everything you read nor have a clear process for deciding which things you could trust or to what extent you could trust them.

Text is as much a mystery to you as many of the individuals you encounter, a circumstance that leaves you much of the time on the uncomfortable cusp of arguments about whom to believe and to what extent you should believe.  Sometimes the argument boils over, leaving you determined to trust nothing but your own interpretation, a condition that leaves you feeling isolated, but not entirely sure of what it is you are isolated from.

No wonder you are so concerned with trying to create the dramatic equivalent of Dr. Frankenstein's monster from the parts you think essential to story.  So many investigations lead to disappointing results.  So many mysteries are so fraught with potential answers, yet none are entirely satisfactory.  When you work at your own stories, for a moment or two you can see some outcome that is less uncertain than the reality about you.  For a moment or two, the dreamer, the user of drugs, the artist have visions offering them a certain sense of security and control, a method of defining the inherent chaos in all things that seems close to some ideal of truth.

For a relative time, we have identified something, but it changes as the universe changes, as reality changes, as the focus of investigation changes.  Through the lens of text, we may look into the intimacy of another person's reality, that person's universe, hopeful of clues that will help us cope with our own universe.

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