Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Escape Route

We live in more than one world at a time, hybrid realities shifting on and off as the energy in one is used up and the other, with a lurch, takes over. Story becomes an attempt to observe the various worlds with some standardized recognition of behavior.

Wishing to become a writer at this age is a perilous business, one you had no idea was so fraught with danger when you begin. The closer you come to understanding the writer's voice that is you, the more you realize it is a distillation not merely of the voices your earliest mentor asked you if you had achieved yet, rather instead that you are a composite of different worlds, different voices, differing needs and visions, clamoring a though opposing factions in a town hall meeting.

"Do you hear voices, or do you see things?" she asked. You were relieved when she confessed to hearing rather than seeing, not that there was or is a better one to be afflicted with. The problem would be to have neither, feeling you were even at a greater distance from your goal, instead inventing the middle ground, "A bit of both," as a sophisticated choice. Within seconds of hearing that question for the first time, you were rewarded with memories of you scribbling furiously to get down the wording from those voices, coming at you so quickly you despaired of capturing it all.

Sometimes the swiftness and intensity of the words makes it impossible for you to capture it all, a frustration with close relationship to the times you dream a story or a scene or a triggering exchange of dialogue which you are unable to recall after you've awakened.

In both cases, awake or asleep, the process is in a sense scattering clues for you, making it part of your job to focus on the individuals and images involved.  The takeaway: Nothing comes easy; even when you think you have "it," you have only an approximation which will want some reaching into the deeper-than-waking state to recapture as much as possible.

In order to write a page or two of narrative, you find no sufficiency in the mere taking of notes; you want to hear and investigate the clamor, listening to the voices, some of whom have the same effect on you that reading a boring book or engaging in a boring conversation has.

There is no escape when the complains from within border on the boring because this is you and you need to listen, to sympathize with as many of them as possible. From your own brief experience as an extra during the heydays of live TV drama and from the hundreds of stories you've sent to magazines scattered about the continent, you have a sense of those who are rarely if ever going to be cast in anything and of those who are not likely to find their stories being given homes in any publication for the foreseeable future, if ever.

Difficult as it is to account for the presence of such aspects of yourself, you must persist in attempts to know them and feel some compassion for their complaints lest all your characters sound as though they originate from the same source. Story plays on the contrasts or differences between individuals and between conglomerates and associations.

You'd thought earlier on that it would be easy because you were desperately bored to get away and out on your own adventures and because, even then, your own reading had provided you with what you thought was imagination. 

In your first creative writing class, when the instructor asked you and your classmates to name necessary conditions for story, you said imagination, and you meant it, but he asked you to consider if you were yet old enough for what imagination really was, which had the possible meaning for you that what you really had was a group of escape plans for the prisons of reality you liked least of all.

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