Thursday, January 26, 2012

Story Is

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”
Joan Didion

Story is in many ways the equivalent of ordering a bookshelf from Amazon.  You have ordered it in the first place because you have enough books to fill it.  In fact, thinking about it, you may have underestimated the number of books now on the floor or tables or the shelves in the bathroom and will need to order yet another.

Story is the equivalent of the bookshelf arriving from Amazon and the subsequent discovery that the “some assembly required” description is more than a little hyperbole.

Story is setting the respective pieces in some area, then attempting to decipher the instructions.

Story is the discovery that the individual who wrote the assembly instructions hates writing.

Story is finishing the assembly with one or more surplus screws, causing you to wonder if the individual who boxed the shelf were an individual who hates readers or if perhaps you’d missed some vital step in the assembly process.

Story is having a shelf that wobbles.

Story is the discovery that while assembling the shelf, you either taught yourself Anglo-Saxon or had access to a rich treasure of profanity you had not realized you owned.

Story is the discovery that your shelf has caused you to invoke the pathetic fallacy wherein you implied that the shelf had a mother.

Story is the realization that you will, the next time you purchase a shelf, visit a store that sells pre-assembled shelves or provides a service in which some individual, usually a man wearing glasses and a duck-billed cap will assemble the shelf, all the while making sarcastic remarks about how busy you must be.

Story is the awareness that you do not assemble shelves; you assemble scenes that neither wobble nor leave extra screws.

Story is the awareness that you are capable of far more spectacular failures than mere wobbly shelves from Amazon dot com, that things far more significant than bookshelves have failed you, not merely because of your difficulty with the instructions but also because of your difficulty with wrenches, screw drivers, angle irons, and drills, your ineptitude with thematic material and motivation.

Story is the awareness that most individuals who in successful fashion assemble bookshelves have better engagement with their senses of temper and frustration than you do.

Story is the awareness that even though it is about your characters rather than you, a wobbly story nevertheless reflects on you.

Story is the awareness that you have attempted to control outcomes, which, because they are images of reality, are as difficult to control as the events in reality are difficult to control.

Story is the awareness that, as you need some shelving for your books, you need some construction to hold your inventions, and further that these constructions are every as liable to wobble as the bookshelves you assemble.

Story is the awareness that men who wear glasses and duck-billed caps and who probably hate readers are nevertheless necessary adjuncts, for reasons you may never understand.

Story is awareness.  When all else is said and done, story is awareness, adjuncts to process, for reasons you may never understand.

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