The Alternative Realities of Story



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When we decide to write a poem, a short story, a piece of creative nonfiction, or a novel, what are we doing? I mean, what urge are we following? What role are we assuming in society?

Sure, writing can be an ego trip. It can be a living, albeit a chancy one. It can also be a way of explaining our personal lives to ourselves, or perhaps to others. And it can be a way of exaggerating real life in order to make life's vagaries a little more obvious.

Stories have always been a part of the human makeup; human life is and has always been a flawed proposition. We're never complete as individuals, we're forever in the process of becoming – something new, something different. It's inescapable, in fact.

Stories seem to spew from that oh, so limited state of affairs. But why? Well, I find it hard to live in the moment, don't you? We keep wondering at our choices, our decisions, bemoaning the past, fretting over the future.

Stories – and I use that term collectively – seem to be a way of living out other choices, even other lives, born from the decisions we could've made but didn't. It's a way of taking our little sliver of life and adding depth to it, giving it a broader vista. In that way, we hold out hope that life isn't a vain proposition, that despite its sometimes overwhelming limits, there's a scintilla of meaning to it.


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