Howardism Musings from my Awakening Dementia
My collected thoughts flamed by hubris
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On Novel Writing

In an interview with Bill Moyers on the PBS program, Faith and Reason, author Jeanette Winterson made the following comment:

As a writer, you're always something of a vandal, you know, you're a tomb raider. You go in there and take the things that already exist, and drag them out and dress them up differently and there is a sense in which you're a thief. It's no wonder that writers are ruled by Mercury, the god of thieves and liars… Mercury of the double-tongue.

And so there is this sense in which you will always steal and take for yourself the things that you need, but then you bring them back into the light, you dust them down; you put them out again for people to find in a different way. The whole thing about myths is that they need to stay fluid; they need to keep moving. They need to be dynamic, and that is why we can go on retelling them, so that what is valuable is passed on from generation to generation across time through consciousness.

It is sentiments like this that illustrate how crucial it is that we, as a culture, provide a rich store of "common treasure" for our artists, writers and poets to draw upon.

I was going to go on a copyright rant, but that detracts from the depth of this quote. Besides, the free culture movement (sparked by Lessig) has been thoroughly discussed (see this lecture if you are unfamiliar with the term).†

† It does bother me that every time Mickey Mouse's copyright is up, the Disney Corporation greases a few palms, and the copyright date is magically extended.

But November is National Novel Writing Month, and I have a couple of friends who will be attempting to write an entire novel during this month… or at least, a good chunk of it.

I, sadly, will not.

I think it would be great fun to dedicate that much concerted effort and time towards such a project, but novels just aren't my thing… either reading or writing them. Don't get me wrong, I love reading a good novel, but it is like desert when I feel I haven't finish my dinner, so I seldom get to them.

But I do love stories, and I especially love thieving them. Every night my daughter asks me for a story, and so I quickly enter the cultural story tombs and grab a relic or two to put in a new story.

In fact, for more than two years, I've been telling parts of the same story. A story how I, as a younger and more adventurous lad, had a series of travels through a more magical world. So every night, she says the same thing, "Please tell me the rest of your adventures…"

So perhaps a novel is in me after all. Granted, it would be a kids novel, as I'm sure I couldn't make my interactions with djinni and dragons interesting to my contemporaries. Hrm… ok, I'll think about it.

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