That Rare Creature, Original Fiction

I never participate in NaNoWriMo. I blame the month of November, because it never works out that I have enough spare time to write an entire novel. I’m also becoming more and more certain that I have ADD, which is my new excuse for rarely posting at all. I’ve got an answer for everything.

The knowledge that every person who fancies herself a writer and can somehow find the motivation to do so is currently finishing off that novel-in-a-month makes me think about the vast and expanding number of stories that exist in today’s world.

Tell me if you’ve heard this one: “There are no new stories.”

I’ve heard it a whole lot of times over the years. And I suppose, in some ways, it is true. Kind of. That is, at their cores a lot of stories are about the same basic things – there is a set number of stories that exist, I’ve heard, and absolutely every piece of “literature” (using it as a loose term, hence the quotes) falls into one of those categories. I believe I remember the number seven being thrown around. Not that I care enough about this particular claim to pay attention to what these categories actually are.

I don’t adhere to this. More specifically, I do not believe that just because two authors write books centered around prophesied dragon-slayers, they are writing the same book. Allow me to elaborate.

Let’s assume for a moment that it’s true, and there are no new stories. So, what the fuck am I doing? What’s the point in being a writer? Why don’t we all just give up, since all the stories have been told? Hmm. You know how some people say there are no stupid questions? They’re wrong. That last one is a really stupid question.

It might be so that one can strip down most stories to their basic plots or themes and lump them into broad groups. If you’re someone who does that, congratulations, you have managed to destroy the story as you were reading it. Because, although that core is typically important for most works, it does not make up the entire work. The plot, or the theme, is not the entire story. There are a lot of books that are suspiciously similar and do not offer anything new or make you think at all. I’m not talking about those. I’m talking about LITERATURE. By some definitions literature is any writing, but I’m a scholar, so that’s not the definition I work with. Literature has something to say, which goes beyond a single aspect like plot or theme or symbolism or any of those other terms you learned in grade school. The language is important. The way something is said. The expression of a common experience that is told in a way you have never read before. An image that awakens something in your mind. Reflections of the current times, important events in history and what they might mean.

I realize that this last paragraph is not the picture of clarity, and I apologize. I think about this a lot, and I so vehemently believe that new stories happen all the time that my arguments never come out in a calmly structured way. And, honestly, I don’t care, because I’m pretty sure you can still get the point.

The point is, what does originality mean? If it means inventing a plot that is completely unfamiliar at every turn, then we’re all screwed, because that’s impossible. Personally, I like to challenge this new story business by rewriting old stories in entirely new ways. Sadly I cannot yet prove this, since none of them have been published. If you have a way to help with this, you’d be one step closer to seeing my own brand of originality in action.

(Kidding, of course. I’m going to get myself published. It just might take a while.)

My thinking is that originality is not about creating a world no one has heard of, or adding complex twists to the basic plots all stories fall into. It is about the way the story is told. And honestly, one does not have to be Murakami (whom I still haven’t read yet) to be original.

Although I hear it helps.

 

 

Who has two thumbs and an idea for a new writing project?

…I don’t know. Who?

 

Just kidding. It’s me.

I’m not going to tell you about it, though. It’s still just the beginning of an idea, and it needs time to fester and grow, becoming so infected that I end up losing a limb…

Okay, so that thought went in a strange and unexpected direction.

In all seriousness (what a stupid-sounding word…), I want to ponder this new idea a bit, and develop it, before I actually talk about it. It’s just not ready to see the light of other people’s minds yet.

 

In the meantime, I might even bring myself to work on the multiple projects I already have going. Wouldn’t that be something.

Another Life #16

or Soul-mate

The brown tile platform, already littered with commuters, started to become uncomfortably stuffed with people as I waited for my train home. As yet another train-rider squeezed her way in front of me, I sighed in frustration and turned my head to mutter scathing remarks to myself. And then I saw you.

You were looking straight at me. Your face was blurred, but your dark eyes locked onto mine and would not release me. I dimly registered your spiked black hair, checkered scarf, and silver earring in some very large gauge. None of that affected me – nor did you take notice of my unwashed hair, shining with oil, or my ill-fitting jeans. We walked toward each other, weaving through the crowd as a train pulled into the station. Our hands met as the doors opened, and the opposing streams of people poured in and out of the train. We boarded together, standing in what little space the other passengers would allow us, with our fingers linked.

My stop, just two over, came before yours. I got off the train, turning to look at you again. Our eyes held each other until the train pulled away. I wished that I had asked your name, at least.

It bothers me less that I may never see you again than the thought that if I do, we might just walk right by each other, not noticing.