>> Thursday, October 8, 2009
I was struck by something yesterday and I'm going to share it with you all today. Being a "writer" isn't the same for all the people who call themselves such. Duh, you might be thinking, but I mean something more profound than that, though it's just as obvious.
That people have profoundly different things they have to do when they write (or read) anything and, if they have a natural tendency toward something, a natural gift, it can be very difficult to break away from it. For instance, I've always assumed that my daughter's writing and mine were similar. When I was in high school, I wrote primarily poetry, just like she does, with imagery and dark/tragic themes. Later I moved on to short stories and, eventually, started on novels.
But the thing is, even when I was writing haiku and rhyme/rhythm poetry, even when I was writing essays for class, they always turned into stories. No matter what the assignment or the vehicle, it always became a story, whether it was the little girl who died of fever, leaving the worn teddy pining for her or whether it was the king of Elves amusing his love. Or a tarot queen. Or a girl who can ride the wind.
The most mundane suggestion could lead to the most fantastical flight of fancy. You just never knew what I would do with whatever assignment or suggestion I took in.
For some reason, I thought my daughter would be similar. But you know what, she isn't. Right now she is into very very dark/gothic poetry and, when she tried to write a story, what she wrote was a very very dark/gothic poem in paragraph form. Vivid, compelling imagery, but no character, no action, no movement. And way cryptic. It took a very long time and much coaching to get anything approaching a cohesive story on the paper, though it was unsurprisingly still full of the imagery she does so well and the action was fairly brief.
I'm not trying to say I'm a better writer (though I'm more experienced, of course), but I was surprised how fundamentally different our writing intent and style really was, how diametrically opposed our strengths were. I don't think I've ever written imagery as vividly as she already has, but my storytelling's effortless. I'd always thought storytelling was her next step, but, what it looks like is that she's a true poet and I, I was just a dabbler, learning a little something on my way to my true calling.
Know what else? There's nothing wrong with that.