Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Telling Tales

It’s all make-believe, telling a story, writing a novel. Do I think that Patricia Cornwell had to be a murderer to write murder mysteries? Well, she does know her way around a morgue like Kay Scarpetta does, the main character of her long line of novels, so that helps her story writing. One of Jonothan Kellerman’s major character is a psychiatrist, and Kellerman has knowledge in that field. But, then there is James Patterson does he know what it’s like to be a teenager who has wings sprouting from her back? Doubtful. Yet he wrote another very popular series of novels based on just that. Hence, they have the background to give credence to their stories, but popular writers can suspend reality and write the fantasical They know of which they write, but they can create other worlds, realms and situations.

“Write what you know“, I have always heard. So what do I know? Even in my almost half-century of breathing, I don’t think I really know much about anything in particular. Not any more than the next person, if I were to give myself some credit. What I do know is I want to write. I also know how to day-dream. Hell, I sleep to dream. I can have one vivid imagination at times. Is that enough backing to write a book?

Should I take a writing class? I may, but I fear it will deter me more that enlighten me. Maybe I’d discover how the sausage is made, really made, and it would grind up my fragile little dreams into piles of hot-steaming pulp. Besides, I’d like to think that the process of writing is more organic than having to learn that process in a classroom setting. I don’t want to find out that there a formula to successful writing.

I have written before, in high school English. I wrote a short story about a man who was fixated on the tale of Abraham Lincoln’s foreshadowing of his own death, and how at the end of the short story, that fixation save the man’s life. I was proud of the story. My English teacher found my dialoge “trite”. What the hell did he expect from a sixteen year old girl? I did end up receiving a “B”, but all I could take to heart was the unflattering comment.

Is writing one of those things that, “either you can or you can’t”, like playing the oboe, or shooting a round a golf? With golf, not everyone can pick up a nine iron and swing it at a ball, executing a natural arcing motion, but most people can at least swing at the ball in somewhat of an swinging action, even if they end up topping the ball. I have picked up a nine iron, attempted to swing at the ball in the so-called natural arc, and proceeded to slam the club head straight into the ground, as if I was driving a railroad spike home.

I fear writing would come just as un-naturally for me. Forget choosing a sand wedge, forget having to take a Mulligan, I’ll just take all my broken shafts and go home.

It’s easy to write “what I know” if what I know are the thoughts in my own head. In a way it’s safer to just write about my thoughts, since who is going to dispute my them? They aren’t implausible story lines with unbelievable characters executing impossible acts, speaking inarticulate dialogue. I don’t have to justify thoughts. They are mine, damn it, but they do not make for good reading material, only blog fodder.

“Once upon a time…” Telling a story was so easy long, long ago. But, isn’t that how the process starts?

“Once upon a tine there was…”

A friend of mine wrote about writing in his blog. He told how he had asked his mother if some day he could become an author. In one of the most profound answers I have ever heard, she said, “It’s merely a choice one made.”

“Once upon a time there was a little girl who wanted to tell tales.”

**This is a repost from a post a from a few days ago. Write when fully awake to avoid mistakes, such as attributing the novels to the wrong author**

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