Author JK Rowling speaks of failure and imagination as crucial to a life well-lived.
[E]ven if you remember not a single word of mine, you remember those of Seneca, another of those old Romans I met when I fled down the Classics corridor in retreat from career ladders, in search of ancient wisdom: As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.
The eternal debate rages on, does it not? In this segment of human entertainment history, we seem to be swaying heavily toward factual stories — creative non-fiction, memoir, documentaries and the like — as “best”. But as we people will do, our collective minds will eventually change and the course of time will shift these pun-laden sands to invented tales then back again. In the meantime, here’s a little something from intrepid New Yorker, Charlie Todd, a man who understands with the fibre of his being that experience is truth. Period.
I found this languishing around my desk today having been clipped long, long ago. The newsprint has yellowed and curled, as befits something read in times of need. So here it is for you.
Turns out the text is an excerpt of Michael Cunningham’s introduction to the Michael Henry Heim translation of Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice. The full introduction is available at the PEN American Center site for your inspirational pleasure.
For those of you unfamiliar with the psychosis-inducing exercise that is National Novel Writing Month (inconveniently known as NaNoWriMo), behold. Every November, hoards of slightly *off* writers plunk down at their keyboards and legal pads hellbent on composing 50,000 words that will, with some luck, jell into the beginnings of a novel. It takes thirty days of frenzied doing and it’s a crazymaking good time.
New writers find NaNoWriMo to be an expectation-free way of diving in to what appear to be an impossible achievement. And novelists with a few on their shelves? Well, they find NaNoWriMo to be an expectation-free way of diving in to what appear to be an impossible achievement…or to start a new project or just for a bit of silly fun. Birthing 350 pages can be daunting to anyone and spilling it forth–without looking back and knowing that the first draft will indeed be utter crap–can be freeing and exhilarating for just about anyone. (Even screenwriters. And yes, we know your dirty little secret…)
NaNoWriMo is empowering. It shows us what we can do. It shows us that we each have unlimited depth to our abilities. (Personally, when I feel blocked, I reflect on my NaNoWriMo experiences and know the words are always there waiting patiently for me to bring them out and shape them into meaning. It’s comforting.) When a group of people come together to push themselves through together, anything can happen.
So far this year, over 15,000 writers have signed up! So why not toss your pen in the ring this November and sign up today?
Extraordinary cuteness aside, I wanted to share this with you. You, storytellers. You, weavers of imaginary worlds. Little Capucine reminds us of the sheer pleasure there is in allowing stories to appear right before our eyes, without forethought, software, or seminar-approved paradigms and definitely without straining for the best word. Sometimes the thread is all there is and it is good.
Without further adieu, I present Capucine! Via the blog of my cherished friend, novelist Susan Taylor Chehak.