Expression, Life, Stories, and Why It Matters

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People always ask you, hey, what’s your story?

It’s interesting. They should just ask what your life has been like, because that’s what they really mean. Somehow that doesn’t get the same reaction out of people. It’s like a dozen questions in one, too, so I guess it makes sense to come off as being innocent and interested. Same kind of question as who are you?

I’m starting this blog because my story is full of ideas. My life is filled with these little moments that I think I am obliged to express because life is story and story is life, and if your life/story isn’t expressed, then you’re really nothing but a blur on the side of the road, are you? I’m also starting this blog because I am having difficulty keeping my ideas to myself. I want to share them with an open audience. I want them to be heard, recognized, cherished by someone other than me, and that may not come. No, most likely it will not come. Not until I have written for a very long time, and not until I have expressed those writings somewhere other than my personal Dropbox.

Let me tell you my story. I’m an Atlanta teenager who would rather write than play soccer, who would rather paint a picture with words than with a brush, and who would rather create than be created by someone else’s expectations. I grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta, nourished to my full height by the confinement of wealthy private Christian school. I emphasize that point because I am one of the school’s few atheists, and that’s always a fun time. I am introspective, but that is something I find myself rarely expressing. I am perceptive in hindsight, although in hindsight, being perceptive doesn’t altogether matter, because the mistakes have already been made. I have been told that I see the best in people, and I am not quite modest enough to deny it. I am more narcissistic than I should be, but that is quite fine, because I am unscathed by your expectations of how I should act or look or dress. I am intelligent, although sometimes stupid because I am perceptive in hindsight alone, and I would never want my intelligence to go to waste. I am ambitious, but not courageous, a big dreamer and a hard-worker, but not a risk-taker. Except in my expression, which is my story, which is my life. I am passionate about many things, and my teenage angst takes form in the thing that I am most passionate about, which is consideration. I want to be considered for my thoughts and skills, not my age. I do not take kindly to being told that I cannot do something, and being told that I cannot do something will often drive me into a rage that I can only control – guess what – in hindsight. I often will say things I regret. Oh yeah, and I also write a ton. Usually of fantasy fiction. Which I will probably sample here at some point.

Enough about me, huh?

I was asked to write in my English classes this year about revision, and how literature is often a revision of something – whether another text, or a historical period, or an artistic movement, whatever it may be. But I don’t think that’s quite right. Literature to me is an expression of life. All stories are based in truth, I think, even my own pursuits in fantasy and make-believe. We tell stories to talk about humanity, and emotion, and to explore the world we live in, and to express ourselves, and to express what we feel towards each other and towards the world at large. I think that’s why stories are told in so many ways, throughout history – from the first oral histories to the books and TV shows and video games and what have you that feature so prominently in our culture today. All of those things explore the world of humans in some way – why bother telling a story at all if it does not leave you with something?

I write fantasy fiction primarily, although I’m also working on this long-term religion-based realistic fiction project that explores, more than any other project I’ve worked on, myself. I write fantasy fiction because it is as far away from reality as possible, but it is still incredibly real. It’s real because it doesn’t matter who you are or what you are setting out to do, that you are human, and you will have human conflicts that make your audience reflect on their own human conflicts. Even non-human beings are often given humanity – I mean how many humanoid species have we seen that have been in the center of conflicts as well? I think that because I’m a human, every story I write will be in some way about humanity.

It all matters because media shapes our culture. Like I said earlier, literature is designed to make you reflect on your own human conflict, because it’s written by a hand that has experienced human conflict. It’s impossible to avoid what drives us and shapes us as people, and I think everything we create will therefore be unable to avoid those driving and shaping forces. I mean, our language changes, our interests change, our styles and thoughts and emotions change because of what we are exposed to through the stories that call us as people. The fact that “turn down for what” is an acceptable phrase in daily conversation, or that people cosplay and roleplay and go all out just to match the characters they love, or that we can’t even have an apple without either thinking about a princess or a serpent. We can’t avoid the media, and why would we? It’s another way of capturing our humanity, and of alerting us to the people around us. That’s why I write, I think. To express my humanity, to explore the humanity of people around me. I think that’s why people think I see the best in others, too – because laboring over characters as I have puts you in the right mindset to consider people as people, and not as obstacles. I think writing and reading and playing games and otherwise interacting with people that aren’t real opens our mind to the possibility of interacting with people that are real. So literature is important, and so is my expression of my life and my stories.

ELS

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