11am in the morning

I was reading Sir Butch Dalisay‘s blog (I very nearly had Sir Butch as a professor in a literature class during my undergraduate in UP, until he went flying off to Scotland for that semester. *snaps fingers* Sayang.):

… an author’s job is to write a story, not to explain it. If you have to explain something you wrote, that almost means that you failed…

Just something that had always been at the back of my mind but I never quite realized. The ideal aside, I don’t quite like explaining my own stories as well. I mean, telling how I came up with that particular story is fine, and so is explaining what “technique” I used (because it makes me feel very nice and important that I actually have a “technique”), but it just feels odd when I have to explain the meaning of it. I remember once I had to write a poem for class in UP, and Tin wanted to read it. She was doing Psychology then, and I was curious what a Pscyh major had to say. Anyway, after the event, I lifted my eyebrows, and I guess she was awkwardly pressed to make some sort of interpretation, which she did, and it wasn’t even slightly related to what I had in mind. (We still crack up over that when we rehash it over the annual meet-up.) She did do what I thought was typical-Psych for the write-up she gave me for the year book. She’s doing Medicine now in PGH, God bless her soul for managing to keep her head above water.

Another question that usually puts me on the spot is when some people ask about where I get ideas from. Alan Moore wrote that it’s pretty regular practice to subject the rookie who asks that question to slight embarrassment, because the author usually doesn’t know what the answer is. I think I’ve only had one or two occasions when lightning did strike and I already had completed story in mind before I had a word on paper. Most of time, it’s just: start with an image, write a couple of inspired lines, and be faced with a gigantic block. When you get over that block, though, it does feel worth it.

My answer, on average, is usually, “Er…I dunno.” Inspired words.


One thought on “11am in the morning

  1. Makes sense. A story is a form of communication designed to convey a vision of a world to another person. If it needs explanation, it’s poor communication.

    Unless, of course, the story was intended to provoke thought, reflection, and self-analysis. Then a “guh, what does this mean” is good, provided it is followed by a “I think it means this.” Many stories are so arty they fly right past that into the “it makes no sense!” territory.

    I suppose that most ideas come from the weird and wonderful place that is the universe. All the ideas are there; it’s up to us to be perceptive enough to notice them. “Huh, that’s odd,” leads to “why is it that way?” which leads to “plot!” In a way, stupidity breeds creativity. By being dumb enough to ask “whyzzat?” when everyone’s said “Because it is”, you get ideas. I suddenly recall coming up with a small list of plot ideas due to the random thought of “What could you do with an elephant, a 2×4, and a glass of brandy?”

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