Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Kite-Flyer's Guide to Writing, A Writer's Guide to Kite Flying

For the past several scholastic quarters, your class room has been in a rumpled wood-frame building known as The Old Little Theater, in your estimation a gem set among the more modern and aspiring buildings set about the UCSB campus.

There is something reassuring in this theatrical venue, small, intimate, immediate, accessible, and, like so many things associated with the world of undergraduates, subject to surprises, whim, and the agreeable conflict of several unrelated things going on at the same time.

Someone may be playing a piano, others may be singing or conversing, a dog, in spite of the signs saying NO DOGS PLEASE, sniffing about for some object of its own whim.  A bare theater, between performances, is like that, inviting, open to possibilities.  If you have coffee with you, there is a chance you'll more readily sink into the reverie stage of being at some sort of natural or cultural monument.  

Your thoughts will begin to lift, until that moment you recall from your days of kite flying, when the wind caught the kite, seeming to tell you, "Okay, I've got it for a while," and the kit would begin to lift.

Whenever possible, you like to be early enough for class to allow you the exercise of sitting, either in one of the front row seats facing the stage or, conversely, sitting on the stage, peering into the rows of seats.  

This is a kind of exercise that reminds you of the importance of the word "expectations," both in the things you write and the dramatic things you read or see.  In each case, you're involved in the world of story, where some form of communication is shared between audience/reader and performer/writer.

Before you had such distinct feelings about stage or audience, the closest you came was being rooted in some place, your kite as aloft as you had string, you connected to it, watching it, while it was dancing in the thermals, having its own adventures, sending you back occasional messages through the string.

Now that you think of it, sitting or standing on a stage, facing a hundred or so empty chairs reminds you of past adventures with kites, where you are connected to a thing that is like your imagination, soaring on unseen waves and thermals, remote yet for all the distance, you are able to get it to respond to a tug of string; it is able to send you some response by dipping or swooping or asking for more string.

Seated in the audience, there are times when you feel the story is linked to you, and now it is your turn to soar, swoop, and dip.

These are kite-flier's feelings, storyteller's feelings, reader's feelings.  You achieve the flight because you have found the direction of the wind and you know how to run into it with such ability as you have, and you hear something tell you, "Okay, I've got it for a while."

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