July 5, 2010

SSFD ~ Week 5, as well as the National Dialog

Once again, I fail at the Summer of Shitty First Drafts. Sigh. Still sick until late in the week, and then 4th of July. Bad Tam! I am disappointed in myself.

I did start a story. It’s called “Rosehip” about a young chipmunk in the vein of The Wind in the Willows. She was going meet a young rabbit named Dandy and they were going to have adventures. The first line is “In a long green valley next to a tinkling creek in a dilapidated homestead corral lived a family of chipmunks.”

I vow to mend my ways.

In other news, happy Independence Day, for those of you from the U.S.! I’m reminded of the importance of stories because many of our creation myths are just those ~ myths. They may have an element of truth, such as “Don’t shoot till you see the whites of their eyes.” Apparently, it was a common thing to say back then before a battle. But it doesn’t matter if Betsy Ross never really existed in the flesh; someone sewed the first flag. It doesn’t matter that Paul Revere was actually two people and maybe not Revere. It doesn’t matter that George Washington did not say, “I cannot tell a lie. I chopped down that cherry tree.” It matters because, though it is not true in the details, it’s true in spirit either of the time or of the people listening. People needed and still need those stories.

Stories are not just about the tellers; they are also about the listeners and about what the listeners need to hear. It’s like the story of the murder of Matthew Shepard. It was tragic (though maybe not in the pure sense of the word), but it was also a story that struck the national consciousness and needed to be aired. Does it matter that the two men probably just planned to rob him and maybe it wasn’t about being gay, though they probably knew in the backs of their mind that he was? Not really.

You may not know that a 16-year-old pregnant girl named Daphne Sulk was stabbed to death by her adult boyfriend and her body left naked in the mountains just six months before that. Did that strike the national consciousness? No. A week after Matthew Shepard was killed, eight University of Wyoming track athletes in the same car were killed by a drunk driver. Did that make national news? No. Neither of these struck a national nerve. The murder of girlfriends and wives, though a national epidemic, is not on the national consciousness. Drunk driving, likewise.

I don’t say this to minimize what happened to Matthew Shepard. Not at all. I guess I’m saying that the national consciousness and the national dialog has its own needs and truths.

What I’m Reading Today: I idly picked up Fyodor Dostoyevski’s The Brothers Karamozov, having never read it. I was thinking it would bore me and I’d just read a bit of it to get a taste. But I couldn’t put it down! It’s very compelling and kind of reminds me of the lovely stories and novels I read as a teenager.

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