Stories are the collective wisdom of everyone who has ever lived. Your job as a storyteller is not simply to entertain. Nor is it to be noticed for the way you turn a phrase. You have a very important job--one of the most important. Your job is to let people know that everyone shares their feelings--and that these feelings bind us. Your job is a healing art, and like all healers, you have a responsibility. Let people know they are not alone. You must make people understand that we are all the same.
They lived happily ever after. It said so. In the book. They were the last words on the page. Happily ever after. Despereaux was sure that he had read exactly those words time and time again.Lying on the floor with the drum beating and the mice shouting... Despereaux had a sudden, chilling thought: Had some other mouse eaten the words that spoke the truth? Did the knight and the fair maiden really not live happily ever after?
At the last moment, Antoinette came out of her faint and shouted one word to her child.That word, reader, was adieu...Adieu is the French word for farewell. Farewell is not the word you would like to hear from your mother as you are being led to the dungeon by two oversize mice in black hoods... Farewell is a word that, in any language, is full of sorrow. It is a word that promises absolutely nothing.
I'd written Smashed not because I was ambitious and not because writing down my feelings was cathartic (it felt more like playing one's own neurosurgeon sans anesthesia). No. I'd made a habit--and eventually a profession--of memoir because I hail from one of those families where shows of emotions are discouraged.
What happened was that sometimes I was, from a young age, put in the theater to watch movies because they kept me quiet and they kept me entertained, and they got me out from under the feet of my parents. So from a very early age, I went to the movies and I soon grew to prefer the life of the movies to my own life. The reality that the movies offered was preferable to the reality that I was experiencing. I became a child movie addict. I would go in with great pleasure and I'd never look at what was playing -- what was playing was unimportant. The fact was that I was entering a new world, an environment where not only was it much more attractive than my life was ordinarily, but also I could manipulate it to an extent by coming and going, and by looking at scenes or not, which I could not in my own life. I was subjected to my own domestic life. But I discovered a kind of power at the movies.
I also know that not everyone will like what I do, and that there are many people who do love my work, and so I write for them, and for my own pleasure, and try not to brood too much over those who have different tastes. And I have written enough books now that I know the self-doubt and the anxiety are part of the creative process, and drive me to keep trying to do better, and keep me from becoming too cocksure about my writing, which is a form of creative death.
I ran across an excerpt today (in English translation) of some dialogue/narration from the modern popular writer, Paulo Coelho in his book: Aleph.(Note: bracketed text is mine.)... 'I spoke to three scholars,' [the character says 'at last.'] ...two of them said that, after death, the [sic (misprint, fault of the publisher)] just go to Paradise. The third one, though, told me to consult some verses from the Koran. [end quote]' ...I can see that he's excited. [narrator]' ...Now I have many positive things to say about Coelho: He is respectable, inspiring as a man, a truth-seeker, and an appealing writer; but one should hesitate to call him a 'literary' writer based on this quote. A 'literary' author knows that a character's excitement should be 'shown' in his or her dialogue and not in the narrator's commentary on it. Advice for Coelho: Remove the 'I can see that he's excited' sentence and show his excitement in the phrasing of his quote.(Now, in defense of Coelho, I am firmly of the opinion, having myself written plenty of prose that is flawed, that a novelist should be forgiven for slipping here and there.)Lastly, it appears that a belief in reincarnation is of great interest to Mr. Coelho ... Just think! He is a man who has achieved, (as Leonard Cohen would call it), 'a remote human possibility.' He has won lots of fame and tons of money. And yet, how his preoccupation with reincarnation none other than an interest in being born again as somebody else suggests that he is not happy!