Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Art Imitating Life?

Or is it the other way round?

And can you always be sure which is which?

Take me, for example.
I'm real.
And this blog is real.
I don't write fiction on my blog, so everything you read here is real.

Or is it?

Maybe you've constructed me.
Maybe I've constructed myself.
Maybe I'm a figment of my own imagination and I've drawn you in to join me in the fantasy.

In which case, who am I???
(The fish say if I don't get a grip, I'm going to end up disappearing up my own arse any minute now.)

Bear with me here.
I haven't lost it.
In fact, I think I might have found it.
Except I'm not too sure yet what 'it' is ...

The thing is, when you write fiction you create characters and place them in a world that is also of your creation.
Except mostly it's not.
If you write contemporary fiction, you place your characters in the real world.
You put them in a situation and then you let them loose and see where they go.
Once you've done that, you've made them real, haven't you?

One of the reasons I chose to write a series is that I felt my characters were 'out there' after my first book, leading their lives whether I chose to write about them or not.
So I chose.

The situations I place my characters in may be more extreme than most of us would hope to encounter, but they're not totally unrealistic.
There are plenty of people who spend their lives lurching from one crisis to the next.
My own life has rarely run on a smooth plane for long.
I've survived a lot and I've learned a lot.

Not everyone's life is like that.
There are those who seem to sail on calm waters.
They fulfill parental expectations.
After a happy childhood, they go on to have secure jobs.
Healthy children.
A decent standard of living.

They are the stalwarts ... the bastions ... the pillars ...

And - here's the thing I'm getting at if you're still here - what their lives have is ...
... a different narrative arc to mine.

Unless you're very young, you should be able to look back and see the narrative arc of your own life.

It might be shallow and steady.
You'll probably be contented.
This is what you want from life.
An easy ride.
Safe and controlled.
You feel secure.
You won't look back in 20 - 30 - 40 years time with regret because you've made a definite choice.

On the other hand, you might look back and see a series of alternating peaks and troughs.
You will have plumbed the depths of pain and bear the scars.
You will also have scaled the heights of euphoria felling that this is what life is for -
- to be lived to the fullest.

So what's the narrative arc of your life?
And would you really, if you're 100% honest with yourself, be able to live it any other way?

We're all the authors of our own lives.
And we're all real.
Aren't we???

16 comments:

Minx said...

Jeez, thought I was going pass out there for a minute!

Ahem, right, we are all on a path - the contract is already written, signed, sealed and delivered to the published long before you took your first breath.
In essence, you have already written your life story - now concentrate on enjoying it!

Debi said...

Ah, but where does free will fit in then?

gregra&gar said...

I agree, Minx, the air was getting pretty rare there —

I have a friend, Peter Bretz, who begins expressing his observations with, "In my movie…" I love that. In the same way, writing fiction or non fiction has an implicit but silent, "In my book …" in it for me. It keeps any distracting desire to fact check out of the reading. No matter how "non" nonfiction proposes to be, none should evoke a belief system.

I appear in Peter's movies as his caricature of me. How could it be else? Any description of myself I might attempt, though better informed, is no more or less real than Peter's. Reality is meaningless with out relativity, truth is inexpressible without tangential metaphors impinging on facets of its perfectly impervious meaninglessness. How else can such an infinitude of meanings be attributed to it.

If I take Minx's already written story correctly, the free will was in the deciding how to face life and in whether you enjoy it or not.
The only predetermination that exists is that no matter what one freely chooses to do the ease or difficulty of taking such actions is determined by the harmony with or antagonism to nature they represent.

Debi said...

Wow! What have I started???

If I'm reading this right, you both agree with the way I see (and live) life ... ie that we have no control over WHAT happens to us, but every ounce of control over how we react to it.

And that, as with the butterfly's wings, our (re)actions will effect everything else.

Is that right? I may have launched this discussion into the ether, but I no longer control it. Of course! It too has a life of its own ...

Debi said...

Oh and almost forgot me manners ...
Hi and welcome G&G. Good to see you here.

Er ... you are here, aren't you?

johnbakeronline said...

I'm not too sure about this and I'm not too sure that you're sure about it either.
Ren't we just collections of consciousness?
To look out at the "world" through those eye-holes of ours is to see everything we have learned to see, to see everything we expect to be there. Sure it looks black and white and crystal clear and there appears to be a narrative to it, or, in your case above, two possible narratives, theirs and yours. But is that how it is or is that merely what you see?
On the one hand it is good to see you asking the questions as well as making the assumptions, but on the other hand there is a slight possibility that you are going barmy.
Try to hang on until after christmas . . .

Debi said...

John - that's very astute of you.

I fear 'tis the latter. I might be lacking Vitamin D or something ...

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Course we're not real - we just like to think we are ;-) This world, is after all, all illusion. Isn't it?
Thing is, does it matter? Do we really need to know?

Verilion said...

I'm not too sure about this either, but I am sure that you are real, otherwise I would be a part of your fiction too... Anyway, free will, I like to believe in it in spades, otherwise who decided that this should be my life? I have a bone to pick with them.

homelesschicken said...

hi, debi..heres a idea you may like to try, 3 year markers in your life..
from your earlist memory,write down memorable events that have happened in your life so far,and i bet there are three year markers,between some of the events...regards homelesschicken x

Debi said...

Ab Van - well that's ok then. I think ...

V - Not too sure? Me neither ... When I wrote this post it felt like I'd had a revelation. Things clicked into place and I felt like I'd moved to another level of understanding. Now I'm no longer sure. I sort of still feel the same but I've kind of lost sight of the insight!

HC - That sounds cool. I'm going to think about that. If it's right, what's the significance of 3, d'you think?

Shameless said...

Gosh, deep thought for a Wednesday! (The day I'm reading this.) I used to always rush around wanting to do this and that, changing countries and life constantly ... always saying "You only live once". When I left Bristol to live in France, a colleague stopped me in my tracks with this on my farewell card: You may only live once, but if you get it right, once is enough.

Jan said...

Brilliant post.Tasty with Food For Thought.I'm staring into my mirror ( darkly) and I'm wondering...

Debi said...

Shamey - I thought we lived twice - once in our lives and once in our dreams. At least - according to James Bond. He IS real, isn't he?

Jan - you've been zapped by the existentialist bug too then?

Marie said...

Well, I'm not exactly living the life I would have chosen. However, I like to think that I have the free will to change it. Who knows?

One of the reasons I love writing is because I can get to play God. I can also be one of my characters and live an exciting life if I wish.

Debi said...

Marie - I also sort out situations in my fiction that stump me in real life.

Now we just have to accept that we do have the same power in both personae.