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A story that lives life for itself

Monday 21 September 2009

BETTER THINGS HAPPEN WHEN YOU GIVE UP

Last week, i mentioned the phenomenon of an audience (for which read viewer, listener, reader, and other alternatives) getting a completely different message from a piece of work than what the author (artist, speaker) thought they were conveying.

For me, this is one part of how art works. The genesis of an idea may be in one place but its realisation arrives somewhere else, and carries each reader to another destination. If those readers are also writers, lo and behold your story becomes someone else’s idea’s genesis and so the circle of life continues.

Happy accidents become part of and improve the creating, and more of them are part of and improve the reception of the work.

The immature creator feels they have failed if they haven’t represented their original concept accurately. The child bewails their ‘wasted effort’ if the colours on their paper come out not quite like the swirl of shades in the real sky. Then you grow up and realise that this is the point, in fact. What it’s actually like is already out there. What you need to produce is your own take on it, which will be unique because you are.

This makes me happy.

Apart from being the whole point, it’s inescapable. And apart from being inescapable, it’s fun. I can illustrate this with an incident from real life.

I had a single taste of commercial success in my teens. It wasn’t commercial, but it tasted like it. Not counting the school magazine and the occasion when i was seven and the local paper printed a letter about my budgie, i hadn’t submitted my writing anywhere (so at least i didn’t know the flavour of rejection either). I’d been on stage as a consequence of doing ballet lessons – and there was the time i was on the tv news cos i’d had my picture taken with a police horse – but otherwise i hadn’t come across fame. So this let me know what it might feel like, if it happened.

I was the kid who wrote the long stories, the ten-page marathons when everyone else was producing a few paragraphs. Unlike some young writers, i was too shy to show them so most of the time no one but Mrs M, the English teacher, saw them.

Click through to page 2

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