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AuthorPhoto_JennyForrester

 

Who do you think you are? I mean, what makes you so special?

I ask myself these questions all the time. I imagine people asking these questions about me behind my back. So, I wanted to include them at the beginning of this Self Interview. They’re actually important questions. Even though some people would say we shouldn’t be this hard on ourselves, I think we should. I think we should come to the page, whether we’re writing the page or reading it, with a sense of urgency.

In 3000 BCE, papyrus scrolls allowed people to preserve oral stories in writing. Then, about 2000 years ago, people figured out that they could fold a scroll up into a codex, or even produce individual sheets of paper that could be bound into a book.

Around 1439 CE, Gutenberg’s movable type printing allowed people to reproduce books for the masses.

By the late 1800s, paperbacks were finding themselves in the most remote locations of the world. Books were more available to the general public than ever, but these books were still written as though the stories within them were consistent, straightforward narratives–oral stories on paper.

I’ve been thinking about place recently.

How setting can affect pieces in fiction and non-fiction, short pieces and longer works.

I sat and waited for someone one night, a long time ago, and I was taken by the way the streetlights and the storm that was moving over the streets reflected off the wall of bottles behind the bar. I figured it was probably important to remember the way it looked, in case I wanted to write it into something someday.

And lately, I’ve been thinking about the places that I grew up in, and how they might affect future narratives – or even how future narratives might be entirely about them.

Place, you know? How does place figure into things? What makes for a good description of place? Who are the authors who are good at doing this?

Aside from Brin Friesen, that is?

What’s the best way to evoke the spirit of a place? To call it forth? Should place become a character? Is it that important? Does it depend on the place?


Discuss.

Like most people who use word processing applications, I’m by now perfectly used to seeing those colored squiggly lines appear below phrases or sentences deemed grammatically incorrect. And as a subset of this group no doubt also does, I typically ignore them. I know what I’m saying, after all, and I’m aware when it deviates from standard grammatical rules. But a recent discussion I had regarding the heap of narrative do’s and don’ts piled on students of composition, e.g. Show don’t tell, led me to wonder how useful it would be to have such prescriptive narrativity rules built into a word processor. Let’s call it Story Perfect.

Would you use Story Perfect to compose fiction? What if it could check your metaphors for alignment? What if it could help you ensure your protagonist’s language was “in character”? Or help you pick the appropriate moment for your climax? And would the result still be “your story?” Though it may seem intrusive to most writers, we do this on some level anyway: internalize rules we’ve learned and reproduce them on the page. Why not have a little reminder during the moments of inspiration?

Upon reading about the Supreme Court’s decision to reject a corporate spending limit for political advertising, I couldn’t help but think about the movie The Corporation.

The Corporation is an editorializing documentary whose premise is that the modern corporation—given many of the same rights in the U.S. as an individual citizen—has the textbook behavioral markers of Antisocial Personality Disorder.

In other words, if the corporation is an individual under the law, it is, from a psychological perspective, a sociopath.

Manipulative? Check.

Pathological liar? Check.

Remorseless? Yup.

So!

What kinds of politicians do you think a sociopath will support with its near-unlimited advertising budget? I’m gonna hafta say not the same ones I think would be good for, oh, the sustainability of life on earth.

I don’t mean to drive this blog into the Bog of Eternal Stench (politics), but does it feel to anyone else like we’re witnessing (well, some of us are waging, I suppose, but I feel more like a witness) a kind of epic battle to determine the very narrative of what it means to be America these days?