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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Myth of Writing

So Casey Jones blows his lonesome whistle in the dark of night outside Dead Beat's window. Dead Beat sits up in bed. A half-moon shines its light through the curtains making the shadow of a train derailing.

"Is that you Case?" I whisper.

"The one and only."

"What you doing up this late?"

"Why Dead Beat I'm here to thank you for keeping the legend alive."

"Gee shucks, C.J. but you're my hero."

"Not everyone agrees anymore."

"Problem Case is that they don't know their myths from their hisses."

"Thanks again D.B. Now I gotta go. I gotta run a No. 638 all the way back to Water Valley."

And with the low call of a whippoorwill Casey was on his way.

Now Old D.B. lay his head back down on his pillow, but he couldn't get back to sleep. You see folks, the low call of Casey's whistle, the pounding of John Henry's hammer, they're too insistent.

There is a notion that myth equates to something that is untrue whereas nothing could be further from the truth.

A myth is but a framework which allows us to interpret, make meaning, from something else. In our case fiction, poetry. The myth itself is not intended to be interpreted. A myth creates a rich array of metaphor. It utilises imagery and symbolism. From these we make meaning of the real world.

Our stories are not in themselves real - however they represent reality. Our characters are as far removed from the the individuals peopling our world as is possible, but when we are successful they are believed in as being real. At that moment in time they are mythologised.

As writers our raw material is the stuff of myth - is indeed myth itself.

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