Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What if TV, YouTube, and Other Media Outlets Came Before Books?

I recently stumbled upon a fascinating YouTube group called Vsauce. Their scientific theorizing and musings are truly captivating, and one of the things they said struck me. They quoted a book called "Everything Bad is Good For You". The author wondered what would happen if books were invented after computers, and pontificated a possible quote from a teacher (to paraphrase) 'Perhaps the most dangerous property of these newfangled books is that they follow a fixed linear path. You have the story dictated to you. Why would anyone want to embark on an adventure choreographed by a singular person? Reading is not an active participatory process- it's a submissive one. The bookreaders are learning to follow the plot instead of leading.'

This is a fascinating concept. It enabled me to look at my computer screen and the words/videos I see on it as a form of a book. Also, it caused me to read books as a sort of collusion of varying outside factors to cause the author not to choreograph a particular work based on their own singular idea, but of the conditions of nature they were in at the time. For example, if one of my author friends, S.G. Redling, wasn't flying on a plane and using hand sanitizer, she probably would've never have thought of her debut novel "Flower Town", even in her own writing space. If Stephen King hadn't been driving in a car listening to religious radio at a specific time, he wouldn't have thought up "The Stand".

The collaboration of events in nature, in part, determine what we write. Authors typically regulate their writing areas to what they deem to be most comfortable. True, while this may comfort us to explore the deepest recesses of our minds to 'discover' these ideas, I propose that perhaps changing the scene and taking us out of our comfort zone might help us reach a more introverted state. Introversion in the first draft manuscript is critical, for both plotters and pantsers alike, so it'd be natural to assume that a structured writing environment will provide us a certain measure of control over the masterpiece we wish to create. But if we think harder, we might find that this isn't the case.

The most ingenious writing pieces we tend to create are created by not what is controlled by us, for that is the nature of the ordinary. Rather, it is created by us questioning what ISN'T controlled by us or what we don't know. Surrounding ourselves by things we are unfamiliar with may be the key to piecing something together that we couldn't do with what we have familiarized ourselves with. It is easier to familiarize the strange, but harder still to make strange what is familiar. One of my favorite writing quotes actually dictates something similar. "The best asset a writer can have is the ability to make the strange familiar, and the familiar strange."

The randomization and rationalization of that randomness we place ourselves in brings us to the reality we live in. And you know what? Each person rationalizes their reality differently. Surely you've heard of the exercise where one person will whisper a sentence to another, and they to another. By the end of the line, it's a new sentence. How then, can something so concrete be so misinterpreted? It's because of the variation. In this case, the variation of the person's dialect, audibility of their whisper.

The lesson to be drawn from here is that variation is the opportunity of exploration. The deeper we explore, the farther we will get from anyone else. This unexplored portion of our realities is where we will find the next Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Anne Rice, etc. While everyone can reach these unexplored realities, only you can reach yours.

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