Sunday, August 24, 2014

Accidents, Nature's Way of Helping with Your Story

In the stories you like best, remember longest, and find hidden meanings dwelling under the surface, an ensemble of characters, each with an agenda, seems to collide with one another in a short time, within a confined area.

Never mind that the narrative focuses with intensity on an individual whose priorities seem to dominate.  Mind instead that the rest of the characters, while sympathetic or at least tolerant of the single, demanding individual, have needs and yearnings of their own.

You might as well be saying there are no accidents in story, only chance meetings and accidental events in Real Time, because accidents in story reek of the contrived, the deliberately arranged collision of event intended to provide solution.

Accidents in story are splendid devices by which to add complications.  If used to create a step toward solution, they take necessary work away from the characters, handing them off to such abstractions as The Fates, Karma, Poetic Justice, and Kismet, emphasizing the need for an extended belief in luck, faith, and similar abstractions.

For most of your life, when you made the effort to attempt to place yourself in the world in ways related to your relative ability to capitalize on your ability, you saw yourself returning to a persistent theme.  You, working against great odds in pursuit of a goal.  For some time, you made the mistake of thinking the worthwhile aspects of your goals would effect the probabilities against your success, thus you were equating such things as idealism, nobility of purpose, and a desire to lead what you considered the fulfilling, artistic life.

If anything, such notions add to the odds against rather than enhance the probabilities for.  Too much emphasis on art and nobility and the radiant aura of the common weal can turn your yearnings for competence into a delusional sense of entitlement.  

The best approach is to concentrate on the goal, doing so in trust that the goal was seen as a vision of creativity rather than the object of a wish to pursue a noble cause.  Learn to play the piano before wishing to perform The Emperor Concerto with a full symphony orchestra, directed by an individual of imaginative energy.  Nobility is an abstraction in the face of a well-exercised technique.

In your vision, the only way to lower the enormous odds against successful implementation is through a devoted focus on craft, technique, and execution.  Few stories, such as the ones you most admire, are produced by accident. In your view, accident is a partner to craft, causing things to happen that wanted to happen in the first place.  In a real sense, craft is the ability to invite accident and the resulting ability to cope with it when it appears.

 Men and women have labored at some length and pain to achieve the abilities inherent in their work.  Mary Cassatt had to work to achieve her abilities to transfer her visions to canvas.  Robert Louis Stevenson had to have covered many sheets of paper with his scrawl before allowing certain of those sheets to stand.  Mendelssohn, generally recognized as being responsible for the modern discovery of the greatness of J.S. Bach, had to be aware enough of his own abilities to recognize and appreciate craft when he saw it.

The world of reality is a hive of agenda and motive, made frightening in many ways because of its throb of intensity.  Do not allow yourself to become dismayed by the seeming rush of humanity to provide via its multifarious agendas a huge monster, gobbling down originality, individuality, and potentials for persons of differing visions to live in peace.  

Work instead at your chosen craft, giving yourself over to the efforts of those from the past and present to remove the overwhelming aspects of agenda, leaving story in its place.  Each time you watch a dancer, study the works of a photographer, inhale the breath of characters created by actors, and allow your self to go along in the manner of singing in the shower as you listen to the music of your choice, you are a step closer to setting forth your own story, then awaiting the arrival of the accident, so that you can cope with it.

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