My Journey as an Author - 14
I'd like to take a moment and wander across some of my recurring thoughts. A narrative element which crops up in my writing with some frequency is dreams, not as premonitions of events yet to pass, but as worlds within worlds, reflections of the world, and means to manifest the world. For me, I tend to always devolve to some proto-spiritualist state where dreams have power. It may be that the character never unlock such powers, lacking will or whatever mechanism is essential to dreaming, but it exists intertwined with the lore of the worlds, no less.
In Sul, my grand worldbuilding project, the lands at center of the narrative were subject to the Dreaming Kings, individuals who asleep dreamed the world into its state of being. This borders the creation of reality, or its mere influence, and the exact degree of their power is not stated. It could be at the level of gods, or merely the cohesion of their kingdoms.
Regardless, these figures maintain a mythic position, where many have survived in some fashion through to present. They became engines which manifest themselves, drawing them back from death and destruction in after cataclysm. The dreams may change, from simple kingdoms to empires, from love and harmony to revenge, from one hero's story to another, but the Dreaming Kings remained central and significant.
To what extent does this matter? Not necessarily for the narrative, but in general? We can speak of imagination, or will, and manifesting these things in reality. They are not acts, themselves. The act is all powerful, as it translates thought to physicality. How does a dream become solid and equal to a real thing? I cannot say, except through action. But dreams, by their nature, are not action. Less so than thought, I should think. Thought is at least before action, is organized by the mind, and controlled.
Now, I shift gears. There was a writer by the name of Novalis. He proposed his own esoteric take on writing, where the worlds put into words were real in their own way. Much more can be said, and it is a bit of a rabbit hole for those interested in such things. But it is interesting to consider the idea that creation, be it thought, dream, or written word, should exist somewhere. Then, the question of whether it is made by the maker, or discovered?
The last has consequences, no? As a writer, I have written deeds both marvelous, beautiful, and terrible. Even in lighthearted stories, dark evils are inferred in the distance and fog of deep time. Am I responsible for that? Did I create a world only to populate it with misery? Should I have been more noble and merciful and made a world of happiness and beauty and satisfaction, a place where all things work out for the best, and no cloud ever darkens the day?
We often hear a question asked. Why do bad things happen? We blame god for allowing evil. As a writer, in the role of maker, I have created evil directly. My reasons have served a narrative role, building blocks which the characters toy with, and are toyed with in turn. It is meant to lead to something, a work of fiction about shaping clay into a desired form. It may sound pretentious, at this point, but there is something to consider. The awful things that happen in the story are put there to shape things, making the characters and events result in the right way, which is largely an argument that proves a moral or philosophical point.
Consider a story with a theme. Good triumphs over evil. Working together is better than working alone. Friendship! We cannot seek power at the expense of others. The story argues this, and we place obstacles and evils to make the argument. We do this because we believe the outcome is important, it is a payoff. But is the journey more enjoyable? The pain and suffering? Or is it the end? We like to return to stories, rereading them, or creating following adventures. So the end is seldom the end. It is short and ephemeral. Instead, it is the journey that preoccupies us and gains our interest, the parts filled and fraught with evil and suffering, sorrow and regret. We demand the creation of this type of content because it is more meaningful and noteworthy.
Is it escape? Do we seek this out in place of our difficulty? Or to drown the difficulty we face? I cannot say, and every person may have their own answer.
Yet we come back to it, to dreams, thoughts, imagination, to the essence of the creative process. It comes to have a point, or at least a process. It is populated with hardships which are overcome. And we should understand the reason for this. We should be cautious, too. If our worlds are real in any respect, magically real as in the case of Novalis, or manifesting in the case of the Dreaming Kings, or real only in the thoughts of readers, we writers are the authors of every misdeed, treachery, and vile act. And for most stories, they are necessary. They are not elements of the narrative which can be forgone. Instead, we must seek to make things right, to reach that outcome, that end that is led to by every evil. It must mean something.
Ah, now I think I get to the idea I was hoping to find. Meaning! Written works must result in actual meaning. For them to be moral, for the disasters, wars, and deaths to be excused, an equal or greater meaning must be found, declared, or proven.
But what meaning? The message to the audience? A statement? A call to action? Some result for the characters? This may need more thought.