Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Reaching to Unknown Worlds

No, author friends, I'm not talking about science fiction, fantasy, or any other sort of paranormal worlds, I'm talking about the little worlds we're intimately connected to. You know, the ones we are always reaching for, the ones that we don't even always realize that we need. The world of that kid in the library who likes that book cover, and decides, 'eh, why not?' The world of that teacher looking for material to recommend, the worlds of those thousands of teenagers and men and women and children who, we hope, will accept our offering to their lives.
Once again, I have to point to the awesomeness that is Taherah and her most recent blog post. There's a snippet in there that's FANTASTIC, it's relatable, true, and makes you think for a bit. I read it this morning, and now (it's about 3 pm) it's still in my mind. Which, if you knew the hyperactive sieve that is my brain, you'd be impressed.*you would, authors!*
She reached my world.
How can we, as writers, do that? (any ideas?) How do we reach people? Sometimes we do write things that impact people, but do we know how we do it? Can we recognize when we do it? I think I might've, once, in a short story/essay. (I posted part of it in the end, warning: it's nowhere near as awesome as Tahera's snippet!) Whose world it touched, if any, I had no idea, but somebody's. It's a feeling you get, you know? Not just this is actually good - wow, this is actually kinda good! feeling, but one that has only a little to do with the quality of the work.
So what is it? And how can we actually put it into everything we write?
Authors! Do you know?
Please, comment and tell me, if you have an idea. Or if you know what I'm talking about. If you have no idea, tell me I'm crazy! (No new info there)
Here's part of the story, don't be mad that I posted it and made this post soooooooooo long!! (please?) Don't read it if you don't want to - like I said, it may reach someone's world, maybe not yours. :P Really, I just want to know what you guys think it is that makes some stories... that little bit 'more.'
My guess?
(I really wanna know your thoughts, authors, cause you're so smart! I'll continue this thought tomorrow, hopefully with thoughts of how we can maybe achieve it in our work - but you gotta tell me what it is first!)
^see that? I added my name! It's name recognition, it'll make me famous!

All four of us started high-school in a similar way – I guess we weren’t so different then. Bright eyed, to some degree, and innocent. We wouldn’t have said we were innocent, we’d have said we were quite knowledgeable about anything sexual and inappropriate, but it was that crude middle school knowledge. We knew the facts, we knew absolutely nothing about what they meant. There were other similarities, of course, but there was one thing that drew us together, even from such radically different worlds; music.
In the end, it was marching band that truly connected us. Marching band chronicled our lives; it was the way we wanted to live but were too afraid to. In an age – our age – of apathy, of only ever working as hard as you have to, participating in something that required every bit of our beings, if only for a moment, tied bonds tighter than any of us could imagine.
The problem is that none of this meant anything. We were just kids living lives the same as thousands of the others around us. Four corners of the square, different and unable to resist reaching toward the others. Alice was the ideal of our age, Josh was the reality, Carter was the rejecter, and I was the rejected. We all had questions – why are we here? What does it all mean? – and they sounded good in our minds and in poetry slams, but none of them really meant much in real life. Not really. None of us knew the answers to the cosmic questions, but we all firmly believed they could be answered, and that’s what kept us going – at least for a while.


Stina Lindenblatt said...

LOL. You obviously had a different reaction to her snippet than I did. It was awesome, but it wasn't my kind of thing. It didn't reach me on any level. But that shows just subjective it is. It did reach other people who could relate to her words. She'll definitely go far. Maybe win numerous awards like an author I can think of with a similar style.

Jen said...

I love it when a writer reads another writers work and feels emotions that they only dream of feeling. They connected on a different level than others. I've had this feeling and I love it when it happens! You can't get enough, you're dying for more.

This piece was great. I will be interested to see where it goes. I love how the characters were explained, Alice the ideal judge, Josh was the reality, Carter the rejector and I was the rejected. That meant something, what I don't know yet but I'm sure you'll be sharing soon enough! Great writing though, I enjoyed it!

beth said...

Wow--that's so fascinating to read your response and then Stina's. Writing IS so subjective. I don't really know what the magic combo is to make a reader really connect to a book--but I do think that some of it is actually magic. :)

Janet Johnson said...

I agree with Beth. I though Taherah's writing was amazing, but I do agree with Stina, it wasn't my kind of thing. I would struggle getting through a full book like that. But it was definitely amazing writing, and I think she'll go far.

The connection is magic!

Anonymous said...

I think Tahereh is an amazing writer -- she can string words together so well, even if I don't think it's the kind of book I read (I'm more interested in fantasy).

Writing and reading are so subjective. For me, that "little bit more" is a character with emotions and thoughts I can relate to, and that is so personal to each person. :)

Tahereh said...

wow bethany i'm so touched!! you're a sweetheart :D i think the interesting point here is that the edgy stuff (like the snippet i shared with you) is not something i'd be thrilled to read in a book i picked up off the shelf. i'm not crazy about reading the sad, tough stuff, mostly because i'd rather be infused with optimism than the harsh realities of the world. that's my opinion as a READER.

but as a WRITER i can write things like that because i've FELT those experiences. lived them. witnessed them somehow. it's cathartic to write it out sometimes.

and therein, i think, lies the connection you speak of. "They" always say write what you know. and when you write what you really know, you manage to infuse those words with a deep sense of personal relevance. and if it strikes the right chord with someone, they can feel the same thing. it's really incredible.

thanks so much for your kind words -- and thanks to everyone for your sweet thoughts. that snippet is actually pulled from an edgy/dystopian/fantasy novel, believe it or not. that was just the first page.

best of luck to you all!

and bethany, that little excerpt was lovely. it's powerful and a little heart-breaking in a kind of beautiful way. very real for the adolescent mind.