Six impossible things before breakfast.

A library science student's perspective on life, the universe, and everything.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Graphing a Story

Kurt Vonnegut's take on the shape of stories. An "exercise in relativity." Awesome.

As a hopeful author I like to think there's a little bit more to writing than that, but as you look at today's summer blockbusters and even a good number of New York Times bestsellers, it's undeniable that there's an alarming lack of originality. I'm a firm believer in the school of thought that there are new stories, unknown characters, and unexplored adventures to be discovered if only we can probe deeply enough into our own imaginations. Not everything has to be recycled from what came before (though most creations are at least influenced by earlier works). To Vonnegut nothing is too sacred to be ridiculed, and it's a lot of fun to watch him gently mock his own profession.

When asked what Vonnegut's advice to young writers was, he once said: "Don't use semicolons. They stand for absolutely nothing. They are transvestite hermaphrodites. They are just a way of showing off. To show that you have been to college." He also said he would rather be a giraffe or a seagull than an awful creature like a human being, but he also described himself as a Humanist. Apparently Vonnegut used to tour the country giving a lecture entitled "How to Get a Job Like Mine," in which he would stand up in front of a group of students and proceed to talk about whatever the hell he wanted. He also told his listeners that "Practicing an art is a way to make your soul grow." I wish I could have heard him speak.

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