Sunday, April 04, 2010

A new story: The Storyteller

I used to work with a guy, who called himself a 'mathematician', though he was really just a programmer, and not a particularly good one at that. Another called himself a 'physicist', but hadn't done any serious physics for years. Richard Dawkins calls himself a 'scientist', but he's no more one than I am, and if anything less so. There are a gazillion people who call themselves 'writers', but they don't write anything much, except for...ahh, yes, blogs. And there are whose who like to think of themselves as 'storytellers', but their stories, though technically 'stories' all right, are an insult to the profession to which these people claim to belong.

I call myself a storyteller whose medium is mostly the written word. That means some will think of me as trying to be a 'writer'. I say 'trying to', because a lot believe that in order to merit the appellation 'writer' you need to be a published writer, preferably of the traditional type of published variety. Well, they may say what they want to say, but I do tell stories and I do write—more than just blogs or letters or opinion pieces.

I'll admit that Aslam, the next in the Tethys series, is somewhat behind in schedule, waiting at 27k words for me to make up my mind, just exactly what is going to happen at this point. I know where it's going, but some people made some decisions, or are about to make some decisions, which I considered to lead to a fairly linear progression of events to the next point. But then I realized, again, that linearity is indeed a) boring and b) not like life at all. So, there's now a twist, which will have predictable, tragic, consequences that I've yet to fully think through; plus the unintended ones that I'm going to think about only later, because that's the way I operate. And so Aslam waits until I figured some of that out.

Still, a writer writes. As a light diversion I wrote an uncomplicated short (65k) suspense romance, called Third Chances, which is always fun and good writing practice, because it exercises dialog and human relationship descriptions, which are actually very difficult, and a lot of writers suck at them, even though these writers are published. This still needs copyediting, which is always a PITA, and so it's not priority one material right now.

As of writing this blog, I'm also about 40k words into my long-intended novel about a story teller, called tentatively The Storyteller—though I have a notion that the final title will be different. The intent of the book is, of course, primarily to provide a good, fun yarn. There's sex and violence and all the other good stuff. There's plots and sinister intrigues, and wheels within wheels and twists and turns galore. Just when you thought it'll go this way, it makes a sharp turn and goes that way instead. Sometimes I do this because of a whim and because I might think that things are becoming too predictable. Got to keep your audience on their toes.

The Storyteller is about the eponymous character, a guy who right now calls himself 'Arthur Smith', but is so old—like eight centuries—that he has difficulty recalling what his birth name was. Apart from being apparently immortal, he also has a gift: when he tells someone a story, they absolutely believe it; and will continue to believe it, even in the face of any evidence to the contrary. The wet-dream of every demagogue that ever drew breath. But for Arthur there is a catch: he actually has to be face-to-face with those whom he tells his stories. He can't just, say, record them by writing them down or videoing them.

Ever since Heinlein's Time Enough For Love—and also because I happen to be an Emortalist, of course—I've been fascinated with the problems associated with longevity, and what happens in a person's mind as he or she has to adapt to the historical changes around him. And not just that. A person changes through life, though it is, I guess, debatable how much real 'change' actually takes place. But what are they going to go through when it's not just a single human life, of three-score years and ten.

I'm also fascinated by—a subject Heinlein avoided because he write future-fiction, and Lazarus Long never had to live through what we consider 'real human history'—what a man might have gone through who was born sometime in the 13th century and ended up in today's world. What would he know? How would he cope?

The whole notion of an immortal in the storyteller role has a dual function. First of all it serves me to make it an ode of sorts to the tradition of storytelling, which, as I've said before, is probably as old, and maybe more important than, as those of solidering and prostitution. Secondly it emphasizes the loneliness of the storyteller, because it creates an implicit distance between him and everybody else. I also gave him the power of persuasion because that's what stories do, especially the good ones.

Apart from all that, I also want to 'explore', as they say, some ideas I have connected to the issues associated with telepathy; the thing known as 'possession'; and also 'reincarnation' and what that might be all about and how it might be related to possession. Not that I subscribe to any of these notions, but they deserve fictional exploration, and maybe something a bit more interesting than some of other works dealing with the subject, most of which are not much more than fictionalized proselytizing. I don't want to do that.

The Storyteller is one of the reasons why my blogs have been sporadic, though there's been a recent spate of them; which appears to have—for reasons entirely unknown to me—occasioned a sudden surge in readership. This will, no doubt, decay again to it usual levels once my blogging frequency decreases again, and/or when the topics change back to something that doesn't elicit quite as much interest, presumably caused by people goolging keywords and ending up on my blog. I wish I knew what those keywords were. Was it about the gender homogenization thing? I doubt it. But if not, then what?

Whatever... I'm back to my telling a story, because that's what storytellers do.

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