Thursday, August 29, 2013

Writers and superstition

The other day I said something superstitious, and a friend called me on it. She reminded me that a negative "pattern" of events, which was causing me some anxiety, was in fact coincidental.

I don't know if writers are more superstitious than people in general, but we have reason to be. It's because in everything we write, patterns are meaningful, they do lead somewhere important. Destiny is at work. If something is random or irrelevant, we are trained to take it out of the story.

And so we are used to the idea that every detail has significance. We expect foreshadowing. We anticipate the dropping of the other shoe. The gun over the mantel has to go off. Et cetera. But in life, things do happen randomly and haphazardly--or at least, if there is a design, it doesn't come in the same neat compact size as our stories do. It sprawls over much more territory.

Story is a distillation of life, a more organized and orderly version with theme included. Sometimes I forget that and expect life to act like a story. The fact that it doesn't can be disappointing, but often it's a blessing!

4 comments:

  1. You expect life to act like a story? Heck, if that's the case I'm pulling the Harry Potter card and getting myself a time stopper. Yup. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Story is a distillation of life. . . with the boring parts removed. ^_^

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup, the boring parts remain behind, in the sludge of the original vessel, while the good parts boil off and are recondensed ... can you tell I performed many a distillation in organic chemistry? ;-D

      Delete