I think I’ve written something like this before, but I’ve been thinking a lot the past couple days about how very unlike a fictional story the real world is, most of the time. This is hardly an earth-shattering revelation, but hang with me. Thinking (again? still?) of the wildfire in Alberta, if this was something in a story we would reach a point where there was Stirring Music and then some character or other would figure out a solution to the problem, or a character would suddenly realize What It All Means and come away with some key lesson that would change them forever. In the real world, it’s not really the case; there are lots of stories coming out of Fort McMurray, but it’s also pretty clear that there is no dramatic solution to the problem. The people there just have to wait for it all to be over and the rest of us can try to help if we are able.
Our stories often tend to follow a general pattern – there is a stretch where things look not so good, but then there is Stirring Music and the solution is discovered, people end up in the right relationships, and lessons are learned. There’s a very good reason for this, and as much as I’m putting this in a flippant way, this is how I tend to like my stories these days too. It feels good, as a reader, to see that at the end of the story, things are better, in some fashion, than they were at the beginning. I think it especially feels good because it is so often not that way in the real world; there are plenty of times when things don’t work out for the best and I like to see the opposite when I’m taking time off from reality.
I think that’s also part of the joy of being an author; you get to decide how things are going to work out for your characters. You can create that good ending if you want one (and I do sometimes hear Stirring Music while I’m writing, a little) and have things in the story you create end up just as you would have it, a satisfaction that you will basically never have in the real world. I haven’t consciously done it myself, but I know that some authors also enjoy taking people who have annoyed or upset them in their real lives, dropping them as characters into a story, and taking authorial revenge.
Both things sound more than slightly Dr. Doom-ish, I guess, but I don’t think there’s anything fundamentally different in how authors enjoy getting to create the endings they want to see and how readers enjoy experiencing those endings, except for the level of control over the process. The chance to take a step away from reality and check out an imaginary world where things work a little differently is the attraction.
Of course one of the good parts about there being no scripts or storylines in the real world is precisely that there are no endings pre-written for us. We can each decide how our own story is going to end; obviously not to an unlimited extent, but to a significant one. If there is an author of our personal story, it is us, and that’s pretty cool.
I hope your story this week is a good one.
I’m looking forward to Ottawa ComicCon this weekend; as I mentioned last week I will be at the Renaissance Press table all day Sunday, but you can drop by any time through the weekend (in between doing all the other rad stuff at this year’s con) to pick up something to read, and I’d be delighted if you chose The King in Darkness.
I am counting purchases at the con towards my contributions to the Red Cross for Ft. McMurray relief as well (details in the previous blog entry) so you’ll even be providing aid to victims of a terrible disaster at the same time as you grab something new for your bookshelf. I have had a lovely response to this initiative so far, and I’d love to see it continue right through the month. Although the worst threat of fire to the city seems to be over, it will be weeks until they even start to make a plan to get people back in their homes, and then of course there will still be lots of clean up to do. On top of that, far too many lost everything they had and have nothing to go back to. Everything we can do helps.