Books saved my life as a child. They showed me a world of possibility and made me believe I could find it. To me, a Writer is a magical being, one who spins worlds from her imagination, sees beyond facts to meaning, grasps essence and translates.
A current editing project tarnishes that image. I see folks claiming degrees in Creative Writing or MFAs who cannot construct a decent sentence, let alone write an article that instructs or informs. Instead of the great calling I've always imagined it to be, writing starts to look like something anyone with access to a piece of paper and a pencil could claim. A "poet" who read aloud definitions from a dictionary sort of sealed the deal for me. These words called to her, you see. The beauty of her attention elevated their definitions to poetry.
So I've been wondering why I spend my life pursuing an ideal that may not exist outside my imagination. The waste book that so captivated me also haunted me. Why am I digging for stories? Shouldn't I be digging latrines?
Then I went to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
In less than three hours, that movie restored my faith. It is the work of many people doing many tasks (computer programming and makeup and photography), but they were all engaged in telling a story that illustrates what it means to live with intention. The writer wove a bizarre premise into a tale of human needs and emotions that refocused things for me.
(And can I just say that when Queenie reacts to the news that Benjamin met his father with an outraged, "The hell he is!" I laughed. When she yells, "Not after all this time," she is speaking for me, saying what I cannot.)
Everyone experiences events. Some describe them well. A precious few spin stories that illuminate. There is magic in that.