Friday, November 6, 2009

What triggered me to write?*

This can be a multiple-choice question: What inspired Tiana Johnson to write?

a. Bad writing, simplistic plots, horrible grammar

b. An urge that she had in her gut

c. Revenge

d. Because she makes sense of the world through stories

The correct answer should be E: All of the above.

But I have 15 minutes to write before a faculty meeting and I am working on minimal sleep. (Side note: Fake eyelashes + glue + a first-timer experimenting with a new look = an irrational fear that the first-timer's eyes would seal shut for eternity if eyes were shut for more than 20 seconds).

So, I'll make it short.

I can't remember a day when I wasn't telling stories, reading stories or creating stories. I carried books with me everywhere: to bed, to school, to the tub, to playground. I was always immersed, wrapped up in some book, be it Pilgrim's Progress, a Choose Your Own Adventure, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, Sweet Valley High or a Harlequin.

Along with the book, you'd often see a notepad and a pencil for scribbling notes and ideas. It's a habit that I still keep. Look in my purse, and you'll find a bound notebook, an assortment of pens, and paperback books galore.

My family and schoolmates considered me odd. But my grandmother and mother put up with it. My grandmother would vacuum around me so I wouldn't have to close the book I was reading. My mom and dad indulged my book whims and wishes and would let me roam the aisles of the local bookstores until I was tired.

A few years ago, I realized that this desire to tell stories and make up stories wasn't abnormal as others in my life saw it. This came when I sat in on a graduate rhetorical theory seminar. Before your head hits the table in boredom, I learned a few useful things out of the class. One, I learned how to fall asleep with my eyes open and with minimal noise. Two, I was exposed to Walter Fisher's narrative paradigm.

The short but sweet version of the narrative paradigm is that human beings are natural storytellers. We string the pearls of our lives--the beginnings, the loss, the heartaches, the triumphs, the minutiae, the boring mess, the everyday lived experiences, the conflict, the ends--together to communicate to discuss our experiences and to help others know our situation and our lives.

I write because I can and I must. I write because I am not good at much else in my life. I create stories because it's the universal way. I am a natural story-weaver and a born storyteller who understands the world through and because of stories. I write and create because it's how I am able to grasp onto something certain in this slippery and confusing world.

*My caveat: To quote Dorothy Parker, "I hate writing, I love having written." Writing continues to be a draining yet life-giving force in my life, and I hate the demands and taxes it places on me. But I do love the rewards of seeing and revising the words I have written on the page.

No comments:

Post a Comment