Sunday, July 12, 2020

drinkdrankdrunk: "Write About What You Know" by Victor Schwartzman

Sidney wrote poetry, short stories, novels and screenplays.  He decided to write something original, and started with the basics by writing a list of fundamental plots:

--Man achieves goal

--Woman in danger rescued (old)/Woman in danger rescues herself (new)

--Two people achieve romance despite obstacles

Sidney was surprised the list was so short.

But for the past three thousand years, the stories of all literature, plays and films boiled down to those three plots.  Everything else was a twist.

Sidney realized that if he could create a new plot, his fame and success would be unimaginable.  Two weeks later, the notebook screen remained blank.   He could not come up with a new fourth plot.  Worse, every twist he thought of had already been done.

Then it took an ugly turn when his friends suggested he follow the writer’s Golden Rule:  write about what you know.  To write original, start with what is original about you.

His deliberations eventually grew quite uncomfortable as he tried to think of what was original about his work, his thoughts, himself.  Days flowed by.  Ultimately, Sidney concluded there was nothing original about him.

He was not religious but prayed to God for an answer.  To Sidney’s surprise, God replied.

“I understand your concerns, my child.  Rest assured, it is not you that is not original.  It is your entire world.

“Millennia ago, I created the Earth.  Then, I created a copy.  Your planet is the copy.  I knew copies never turn out as well as the original, but I had hopes.

“The original Earth is fine.  Never been a war and there are colonies on Mars.  Your Earth, I’ve thought more than once of shutting it down.”

“Why haven’t you?”

“Still curious, my child.”

“Can you help me?”

“It would ruin the experiment.  Oh, one more thing.  When you die here, there is no Heaven or Hell.  You’re just dead.”

Then God left.

It was very quiet.

Sidney now understood his entire world, his whole life, was God‘s disappointing experiment. 

Sidney looked at the blank monitor.

Write about what you know.

With the knowledge life was meaningless, Sidney wrote a self-help book.

It was quickly published and sold millions.

When he sat down to write the sequel, Sidney wondered:  How can I make this original?

Victor Schwartzman is a Canadian writer with whom I used to be in the Underground Literary Alliance.  I am quite happy that he is still writing and willing to share some of his work on drinkdrankdrunk!

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