Friday, September 21, 2007

This Stuff, Fiction. Life.

Finished a book tonight that made me think, made me want to talk about an experience of mine, but ... it’s not a blog thing.

It’s not a blog thing because I can’t just tell it. I can’t just say it like it is. In order to tell the truth of it, to get to the real experience of it, I have to surround it with a world and backstory and a perspective.

To just report it, it would lose its power, its feeling, and, mostly importantly, the reader’s ability to empathize, to live it, to feel it, to really know it.

So why do we writers have an obsession with getting the world to listen and understand, not just about ourselves, but about humanity? Sometimes I think every story, or at least every good story, is about understanding some facet of the human experience.

One thing I love about working with kids is they’re so real. So many people think they’re "just" kids, but really ... think about it. We felt our oldest growing up. I talk to fourth graders about how the first bits of adulthood are growing in them, to fifth graders and tell them that they’re really adults now, tell them that in another age they’d be fathers and mothers in a year or two. They understand I’m telling them like it is, not trying to elicit some behavior from them, and they just look at me frankly and tell me that this is true.

Maybe it’s a tad amusing to hear a ten year old tell you he’s an adult and believe it, but ... it’s true, too. I don’t think people respect that enough. There’s not some great divide. They’re stronger than us older adults, you know. Much stronger. (Oopsy, off soabox, back on topic.)

I love that age because they’re on the brink. As they grow older and older, they learn to pretend more, to worry more, to look outward more, to grow all those adult insecurities and complexes we have.

I think we have to find how to return to that brink, to that age before we let our worries freeze us up, to that age where we just look at everything with curious acceptance to understand, to that age when we’re real.

To that age when we can still go to school without taking a shower or putting deodorant on or combing our hair. Because if your story’s dressed up and slathered with cosmetics and deodorant and perfume, it’s not real.

Um, was that coherent? I’m kinda sleepy, LOL ... any thoughts?

5 bonus scribbles:

Edie 9/21/2007 11:02:00 AM  

That's a great analogy, Spy. To strip the stuff that doesn't matter away and get down to what does - in our writing and our real life. What kids do that we don't, is live in the moment. I'd like to do that more.

Erica Orloff 9/21/2007 11:19:00 AM  

Hi Spy:
I've blogged on this before, sort of . . . ever read The Little Prince? When the aviator says he drew a snake that ate an elephant and all the grown-ups thought it was a hat, so he carried the picture around, and if he met anyone, he'd show it, and if they thought it was a hat, he knew he had to talk about unimportant things like what he did for a living, but if they got it, then he could talk of rapturous, wonderful things.


spyscribbler 9/21/2007 04:33:00 PM  

Most of them do, Edie. I have a couple who think a year ahead and panic! Argh! It's a lesson we all need to learn.

I did read that, Erica, but I've forgotten it completely! I'm going to check it out when I head back to Borders. What a great story! I love it!

The Dark Scribe 9/21/2007 06:31:00 PM  

Hey! I've been away for so long. School's going well, but I haven't had much time to work on the sequel to Ardmore. The good news is I've got another manuscript request for Ardmore! Looks like I'll have some late nights preparing the manuscript and writing the synopsis (after spending endless hours with contracts, torts and crim).

spyscribbler 9/22/2007 12:43:00 AM  

Dark Scribe! I was wondering how you're doing! Congrats on the requests, and good luck on all those contracts. Makes me go cross-eyed, LOL! So cool to see you, I was worried you fell off the blogosphere!