(I wrote this post on the Southern Author’s Blog, so it’s a bit of a duplicate)
I haven’t been writing for the entirety of the limited experience that I call, “life”. I mean, well, obviously I wasn’t writing in the womb, nor did I pop out with pen and paper and get to scribing my experiences in utero. I suppose that would have been quite the story, if not, an altogether painful experience for my poor mother. So, what I mean to say, is that, though I may have spent the majority of my capable time on this earth writing, I have some lingering years remaining that offer no insight whatsoever into my life as a writer.
What is that supposed to mean? I take it to mean that I need more coffee.
The thing about life, see, is that life, in and of itself, is a story. Not the words you put on paper (or screen in this modern age), or in the ideas floating about the nether regions of your mind, plucking you awake at the most obscene hours of the night, but in every aspect of every person in every day that you live. Writing is, more or less, the centrifuge to the swath of stories we swim through on a daily basis. I’ve been told many times that, “there is no story that has yet to be written,” and to some degree I get the concept of that statement. To some degree, yes, the stories that are written are nothing more than variances of stories that have been around for centuries. Stories that your grandfather told you on cold nights by the fire, stories that you heard while eavesdropping on that squabbling couple in the cafe, stories that were chipped in tablets and handed down (or succinctly dropped on the floor and cracked into peices by that snarky caveman-esque editor with no appreciation for the man-mammoth-woman love triangle). But in each familiar story, in each tale that rings of familiarity, there in a unique perspective, a unique slant, something that only happened that one time.
Oddly, it took me a while to see this. I had to actually look up from the page, so to speak, and take a nice long look at the world. I had to see how, in its persistent way, that life prodded the art of storytelling. Sometimes, as a writer, you become a bit insulated. A bit protected from reality whilst you delve into the preferred insanity that is your chosen world of fantasy. It’s safer there. You can do what you want. You can kill someone, feel remorse, and move on without consequence. You can encourage affairs, you can win the lottery and stick your tongue out at the world, you can rule the moon, you can take the fragile psyche of a beaten soul and thrash it upon the ground like a small child who is curious to see what happens to the turtle inside the shell once it is broken. But you’re safe because it isn’t real. It’s just a story, and they are all just characters bent to the will of your madness.
I heard it stated that every writer has within them a musician wishing to break out (actually I ready that today from a source I’d rather never listen to again, but I liked it, so now it’s mine…bwahahaha!), and I have to agree. However, it would be irresponsible to music to claim that it resides within any one person. Stories, music, dance, painting, sculpting, they’re all art. They’re all the same. They are all the fabric of life. They all flow. And not one is inspired from within, nor do any reside there. Life is the art. Life is the song. Every life is a story, and in turn, every story is alive.
Ok, so the idea is a touch out there. It’s as inspired as it is insane (though there really isn’t a difference…all artists are insane with inspiration). It’s something out of a Russell Crowe, or Dustin Hoffman-type movie, but it’s true. It’s so very easy to forget that your little experiences, your seemingly insurmountable trials, your possessed frustrations are shared by all of those around you. We all feel a bit like Truman, trapped on the stage, the world as our audience…every so alone in our experiences. But the world is replete in repetition, and in shared experience. No, the mind of that person next to you is not yours, and their similarities are not as yours, but their story is like your story, only in variation, and that variation is enough to make it unique. We are bound by what we are: living creatures who wander like mobile trumpets, blaring our stories for the world to hear. You only have to listen.
Life is everywhere. So are the stories.
Go find them. It isn’t hard. They are waiting for you.