intro and other stuff

McMullin, Elise mcmullea at kl.com
Mon Aug 30 13:53:42 EDT 1999


Wanted to toss in my two bits to Max and Antonia's discussion:
> >I'll start by introducing myself. My name is Antonia, I'm 15, and I'm
> >Chilean (as in from South America). I moved to Tucson AZ about three
> years
> >ago, so I speak english now. I read a lot (which helped me learn english)
> 
>         Hi!  Hooray!  More DWJ fans!
	Yay!  Hey Antonia, have you read any Isabel Allende?  Of course I
ask because you hail from Chile, but really because I really like her plot
twists and her descriptive writing - and that's just the translations!  I
like magic realism stories because my fave fantasy is the kind that sprouts
from the recognizable world - that frisson of imagining that if you turned
left instead of right coming out of the house in the morning - who knows
what could happen.  So in that way, it does relate back to dwj.

> >I concluded that us DWJ fans are forced to walk this
> >earth isolated from each other for some unknown reason. 
> 
>         It *does* feel like that!
> 
But no longer, all hail Deborah!

	"They read because they can't live without stories.  It's the story
that's the bottom line.  I loved what Deborah (I think it was you) quoted
about the PJF scribblies (I always 
> wondered what PJF stood for!)  Stories should be accessible or why are you
> 
> telling them?  They should be direct and honest not hidden behind theory
> and 
> intellect.  That's not to say you can't write 'intelligently' but all that
> 
> technique etc needs to be subservient to the story, not a substitute for
> it.  
> I think that's why DWJ is so amazing, and why we all keep coming back to
> her 
> again and again.  She's got the intellectual background, the training, but
> 
> she's never lost sight of the goal (story) as so many do who become
> totally 
> enamoured of their own brainpower.  She uses the training to add layers, 
> depth to her work.  Her stories are extremely sophisticated--the ideas,
> the 
> plots, everything.  But the language is always clear.  We have *access* to
> 
> what she's saying.  To write in a way that deliberately excludes certain 
> readers and creates a clique of 'intellectual' readers who 'get' you, is,
> I 
> think, a shabby, meanspirited thing to do, and also presumptuous.  The
> world 
> is not peopled with morons (though people may be thoughtless or blind or 
> cruel sometimes) and it's the rare individual who hasn't had to bear 
> something unbearable.  But most people just quietly get on with it because
> 
> there's nothing else for them to do.  All these people recognize the
> 'truth' 
> in a story because it's a reflection of their own experience.  And anyone
> who 
> says different, who says that only the most 'sensitive' people living in
> some 
> rarefied atmosphere can understand, is lying."
> 
	I second everything you say, dwj seems like she has a relentless
bead on storytelling and what's important in it. As to ideas of Literature,
I found it very confusing in school because there was this strain of (-I
don't know if I'm going to catch this one on the mark but -) that whole idea
of the genius being above the common herd, of highfalutin' art in a rarefied
zone, of certain stories about certain people and things being better and
More Art than others about other things.  And people would condemn one book
categorically as being unworthy in some way, less art.  It seemed pretty
harsh to me. It felt like an enormous, smothering, unhappy blanket of ideas
that I couldn't find my way out of.  From being excited to meet other people
who were interested in arts and ideas, I ended up feeling like I wanted to
avoid them.  Luckily I've been pleasantly surprised since that time!

	After I got out of school I avoided my old favorite books for a
while because I didn't want them to be poisoned and made gray by the
Smothering Idea Blanket.  Luckily the blanket kind of broke up and blew away
like clouds.  In retrospect I think people were just using this whole huge
idea apparatus to put a weighty spin on their own personal tastes.  I think
it's tempting to be harsh when you are just starting on something because
there's this feeling of anxiety about establishing some place, some
membership somewhere in the life that you want.  Anyway,  if this helps
anyone when they are being threatened by the blanket, then I've hopefully
said something useful.  Because seems to me the real, good magic in
storytelling is as Max describes it above and is the opposite of anything
weighty, pretentious, pompous or harshly unaccepting.

	"Tip 2: keep the atmosphere safe, be supportive of each other, or
people will 
> not come back.  Workshop material is delicate and unformed.  Say what you 
> liked about someone's piece, what's working for you, what you remember.  
> Don't rewrite each other's work.  That's the equivalent of someone telling
> 
> you that what you have to say is worthless, and you can't even say it
> right.  
> It's stealing someone's voice.  Find a way to remove anyone who show this 
> distressing tendency!  ;))"
> 
	Hee hee, we had this woman in a workshop that would start off the
review of someone's work by saying "I thought this was terrible!"  Asked to
elaborate, she would say that everything about the poor story was bad, in
every way. Isn't that just the worst fear realized? She actually united
everyone else though.  Thus it was proven to us all that the worst *can*
happen and be survived.  ;)

Elise
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