Thursday, October 25, 2007

WHY DO I WRITE? Pyramids, Stories, Magic... and learning how to SPELL


Even when sometimes it can feel like I'm standing at the top of a huge waterfall,
about to take a fateful leap into space...

I want to tell people a great story

I want to change a single life (maybe in a way I wish mine might have been changed when I was a Teen. If I could have read a single sci fi or fantasy book with a well-adjusted gay main character where it wasn't a tortured coming out story but just a great adventure, with Gladiators, and Monsters and Underwater Cities... and a gay love story as part of it - it would have changed my life completely. To see a reflection of myself in a book I loved - to feel included in those fantasies as a gay young man - would have made me see a place for myself in the real world as a gay young man maybe seven years sooner than I did.)

I want to change the world for the better (there's a famous Talmudic line that goes "He who saves a single life, saves the entire world," and I like extrapolating it to my writing and the books I hope to put out into the world! One question that always motivates me: If I could have saved 7 years by reading one book that didn't exist, how many years could I save for others by writing that book Today?

Eve, one of the inimitable Disco Mermaids, has a lovely post on the Disco Mermaid Blog on Leaving Your Mark, that talks beautifully about her reasons for writing. I love what she wrote, and in concert with that I'll add to my list:

I want to leave a Legacy of stories that will live on long after me, that will continue to entertain, to change lives one at a time, and to change the world... My Pyramids, in the way the books I loved reading when I was a Teen (even though they didn't have any gay characters that weren't villains) were landmarks in my life.

Okay, if you think my aims are lofty now, just wait till I share with you the following from "The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers (2nd Edition)" By Christopher Vogler. (pgs. 298-299.)

"... writing is magic. Even the simplest act of writing is almost supernatural, on the borderline with telepathy. Just think: We can make a few abstract marks on a piece of paper in a certain order and someone a world away and a thousand years from now can know our deepest thoughts. The boundaries of space and time and even the limitations of death can be transcended.

"Many cultures believed the letters of their alphabets were far more than just symbols for communication, recording transactions, or recalling history. They believed letters were powerful magical symbols that could be used to cast spells and predict the future. The Norse runes and the Hebrew alphabet are simple letters for spelling words, but also deep symbols of cosmic significance."

Get ready for it - this is great...

"This magical sense is preserved in our word for teaching children how to manipulate letters to make words: spelling."

I love this part!

"When you "spell" a word correctly, you are in effect casting a spell, charging these abstract, arbitrary symbols with meaning and power. We say "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me," but this is manifestly untrue. We know that words have power to hurt or heal. The simple words of a letter, telegram, or phone call can strike you like a hammer blow. They're just words - marks on paper or vibrations of air - but mere words such as "Guilty," "Ready, aim, fire!" "I do," or "We'd like to buy your screenplay" can bind us, condemn us, or bring us joy. They can hurt or heal us with their magic power. The healing power of words is their most magical aspect. Writers, like the shamans or medicine men and women of ancient cultures, have the potential to be healers."
Writers as Shaman - I like that.

I write as a Shaman of the 21st Century.

I am a magician. Spinning a story, sweating it out to weave a spell of words by spelling words...

There's something literally literary about that. (Alliterations included.)

To have fun.

And, of course,
I write because... I have to.
I'm compelled to share my take on things, my voice, my stories. I can't be shut up.

I'll stop at 7, because that's a magic number...
And that's my partial list of why I write. (I reserve the right to add to this list as needed...)

And now, enough writing about writing. I need to go work on my spell-book!




Disco Mermaids said...

Thanks for the shout, Lee!

Love your blog. So important and insightful. And great reviews. Sometimes it doesn't let me leave comments, though. So, I am reading...I'm here! I'm here!

Hope to see you soon. We DM's miss your smile and your energy!


Anonymous said...

Great insights into the creative process, Lee. As a jewelery designer I often think along similar lines... though admittedly rather than changing lives more like bringing people joy.