Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Writerly Wednesday: That One Question

I am not a closet writer. I don't keep the fact that I write hidden away. I slide my notebook out of my bag whenever inspiration strikes and don't care if people are around. Even if that person is my sole companion for the night and I am supposed to be enjoying the music. This, inevitably, leads to the question
What are you writing about?
Or, what is your story about? What is that scene about?
And I wind up sitting there trying not to glare because what a stupid question.
Okay, so maybe it isn't that stupid. Maybe I understand exactly why people would ask that question.
But maybe that doesn't really matter because I have no idea how to answer that question and people get frustrated with me but really, do you want a story that can be summed up in two sentences? I don't.
Twilight, I can tell you what that's about. Edward and Bella and vamps vs werewolves. It doesn't really get more complex than that. Not a fan.
Lord of the Rings? Do you have time for a twenty minute breakdown? You see, yeah, it's about trying to destroy the One ring and everyone makes it that simple like that was the goal of the book, but whoa, hold up there, I'm not sure it was. It was the uniting purpose for the main characters. But... that's not what the books are about. The books are about friendship and perseverance and hope and courage and love - all the different sorts - and humanity, and what is good and what is evil and when to give up and when not to give up and wonder and magic and Earth and Air. They are about hatred and power and corruption and pity and compassion and healing.
Why do you think so many people love LOTR?
I'm not writing Twilight. I'm not writing LOTR either.
But I am writing stories that are as complex as Tolkien's. Okay, maybe not quite as complex, but they are about humanity they way his are.
So when people ask "What's that story about?" I never know whether to give them the two sentence summary or what it is really about. I can give you the super glossed over guy meets girl, she changes his world one that would wind up on the back of the book. Or I could tell you what it's really about. It's about someone who winds up questioning everything he formally thought of as good and winds up super depressed and messed up. To put it succinctly. Because it is also about family and friendship and spirituality and hopes and dreams and fighting for what is right when you don't know what is right and about how this world isn't black and white and that sucks and is really confusing. It is about hopelessness and learning and the evolution of self.
And that's just one story. One story that I can't answer straight because I never know what people want to hear, but they seem to not want to hear what it is actually about. They want the plotline. But that's stupid because if you read my writing, that's not what you get. Sure, that is what the action is but if I wanted the action I would be writing some weird movie screenplays.
Oh. And what is the scene about. Worst. Question. Ever.
Because there is the scene isolated and how the scene ties into the whole story. So... which do you want?? Because it could be character A and character H sitting in a room being ridiculous. So then it is just about two characters sitting in a room, being ridiculous and seeing their exchange of words. But then add the rest of the story and what leads up to that scene and maybe the scene winds up being super important. Like, this is the first time Character A has laughed in over a year and this is the scene where Character H begins to really like Character A or something is said in this exchange that winds up carrying quite a bit of weight throughout the rest of the story (or multiple stories in my case because if it seems random, it probably isn't).
I don't think less of anyone for asking, by the way. I actually like it once I am done being frustrated because it means the person is interested and cares. Well, usually. Some people have this weird form of polite where they ask but don't care and then I just want to punch them in the face or throw oranges at them. But for most people, I enjoy them asking. I want to give them stickers and then wish I had completed the story already and could hand it to them so that they could read for themselves what it's about rather than have me at a loss for words and probably making no sense.
So to anyone who has asked, thank you for being interested enough to ask. But this will be my reply from now on. This whole post.
Well, not really. As that would mean keeping a printed out copy in my pocket whenever I ran into another human being and that sounds like so much work.
Have a wonderful Wednesday
~Kiartha Qwon'um

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