Sunday, August 30, 2009

Why I Write: To Surprise

This post is about what I learnt about myself after getting through my Dip yesterday.

But first I want to talk about what I used to do when I was nine*.

When I was nine*, I spent my breaks at school in the classroom constructing a maze, that eventually grew to six full scrapbook pages. My maze was so devious that I spent one entire scrapbook page drawing a dead end. My reasoning was this - no one would believe that they could possibly be in a dead end. Who would believe that I had spent all that time and effort to simply lead them down a false trail? It would be too big a surprise for any of my nine year-old classmates to even fathom.

(And so it proved - they all gave up on my maze. And having lost my audience, I gave up too.)

After getting through my Dip, I realised yesterday that the same devious urge to surprise and mislead my audience still exists today inside me.

I like writing because I like to surprise people. Writing for me is a way of presenting creative surprises, shocks, twists, and turns.

A script for me is a vehicle for delivering those surprises to an audience. I'm willing to go to ridiculous effort, years of my life, in order to present something different, something which surprises and astounds.

One of the reasons I struggle with scripts is because I often forget the surprises that are in them, given the huge amount of time it takes to finish. I have to apply this lesson to The Gap, and remember the surprises that someone should get approaching the story fresh. And I need to keep projects going until they're made so I get to deliver those surprises.

I can see now that this wish to surprise has been a key driver in my creative writing/paid work/humour/this blog/my approach to just about everything. And it's taken a Dip to see it...

* Approximate age only


Tim Jones said...

When I have revised some piece of writing for the n-ty-nth time, I find it very difficult to remind myself that the reader will be coming to it for the first time. That creates two problems for me: (1) Losing the surprise, as per your post (2) Forgetting that the reader who comes to this story/novel/poem for the first time doesn't know all these data, all those alternative version of the story, that have accumulated in my head. The balance between serving up pleasant surprise and unpleasant bafflement is not easy to maintain!

In any case, I am glad your dip is over. Such dips have tended to correlate with winter for me.

kirsten said...

Wow. I probably wouldn't want to try beating that maze either. But the same logic applied to films (or really, any other sort of storytelling) can yield some awesome results. Which is probably why I keep watching... everything.

Anonymous said...

I love readding, and thanks for your artical. ........................................

Robber said...

I remember those bloody mazes! I tried to create one too, but never got anywhere near what you did!