Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Why Write Tall Tales When the World Is Coming Apart At the Seams?

Maybe it only seems like it’s coming apart at the seams.

No, it’s coming apart at the seams.

So why write tall tales?

Why do anything, but especially why write tall tales when the world, etc.?

Because this one particular tall tale I’m writing might be the one which saves the world, or at least makes a stitch that starts undoing the coming apart in one little shadow in one little corner of one little seam, or slows it, or distracts it, or makes it blink, or makes it think twice.

Because, as Flannery said, I’m good at it.

Because it’s fun.

Because somebody asked why.

Because it keeps me from coming apart at the seams.

Because it might keep somebody else from coming apart at the seams, if only for the length of the story or a sentence or an image or two words put together in a subtly outrageous way.

Because there might be an image or a line or a stitch of dialogue that will make somebody laugh or be glad they’re alive or look up and see differently or tell somebody they love them.

Because everybody dies.

Because ghosts may be at my shoulder waiting for the next chapter.

Because I woke up today.

Because if I don’t, my soul barks at every passer-by.

Because I’m depicting in the story in some way the world’s coming apart at the seams and an option or two taken by a character or two which fosters sanity and hope and which might be contagious through the words and might lead to somebody going out of the house and into that strange world for the first time in a week or a month, because they don’t feel so all alone for a moment.

Because I have nothing better to do.

Because it feels good.

Because I want to.

Because I don’t want to.

Because I can’t.

Because it’s all I can do.

Because somebody said that writing tall tales when the world is coming apart at the seams is a pointless farce.

Because God nudged me by giving me the talent to.

Because all the tall-tale tellers who I ever read and loved did.

Because somebody said they enjoyed one I told once.

Because I’m better at it than praying.

Because it might delay the final coming apart long enough to allow somebody to act, or to reconsider acting, or to have an absurd thought of hope for hope’s sake.

Because it’s not there.

Because it’s meditation.

Because I wonder what’s going to happen.

Because I imagine it will help somebody or something somehow in some small good real human way, or animal.

Because there are animals.

Because when I’m doing it I can use everything I have.

Because it’s the only real true thing in the world.

Because, as Bob Dylan says, All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie.

Because it is both lighting a candle and cursing the darkness.

Because it may lead to somebody else who is losing their faith to go ahead and continue writing that tall tale of their own, right now.

Because I can’t help it.

Because it’s too late to stop now.

Because I’m borrowing the oxygen.

Because the words are there tapping their foot, trying to keep from smiling.

Because the characters are raring to go.

Because I already made a cup of coffee.

Because the cursor is cursoring.

Because when I do death forgets.

Because my fan is clambering up the gate.

Because my foe is waiting for me not to.

Because eternity leans toward me and whispers gossip about my protagonist.

Because it relaxes me, and, as Thomas Merton says, Sooner or later, you got to relax.

Because my cat is twitching in his sleep.

Because my children are lost.

Because the war will never end.

Because, as Virginia Woolf says, A thousand stars were flashing across the blue wastes of the sky.

Because the end of time is sunbathing on the beach.

Because I love sentences, and paragraphs, and endings, and beginnings, and . . . phrases.

Because I’m human.

Because he wants us to call him Ishmael.

Because a fly flew in the window and out again.

Because I’m doomed.

Because the garden is watered.

Because I’m eternal.

Because you’re reading this.


Just because.

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