Wednesday, February 04, 2004

February 4, 2004
Writer Emma Bull has a few words to say about John Fusco’s comments denying the Mideast metaphor of a Cowboy dispensing Western justice in his new movie Hidalgo (see January 29 and February 1):

“I love it when a fellow writer claims that metaphor was never part of
the story creation process. Tim Powers, one of the best fantasy
novelists ever, used to say regularly that he only wrote entertaining
yarns, that he didn't think about subtext. For all I know, he still
says so, but he no longer does it in my hearing. That's because I
finally responded with, ‘Powers! Liar, liar, pants on fire!’

“Humans turn to metaphor the way a passing finch turns to a bird feeder. Consciously or not, we process enormous amounts of our experience by turning it into metaphor. Humans involved in creative stuff absolutely swim in metaphor.

“I'll go out on a limb here, and say that no story is ever solely about
the characters and situation in the story. The writer may not be
entirely aware of what he or she is doing, but somewhere in there is
the playing-out of his love for his dad, or her fear of cancer, or his
anger at the slow death of his hometown. No, writing isn't
psychoanalysis. But who you are informs what you write and how you
write about it, and the making of metaphors is the process by which
that happens.

“Reading is also a process of making metaphors. This is why no one ever
reads exactly the story that the writer meant to write. Mr. Fusco (or
the producers or the director or the studio execs) may not have seen
the story as a metaphor for the U.S.'s relationship to the Middle East
before September 11, but that doesn't mean the viewer won't, or

“Once the art leaves your hands, it no longer really belongs to you.
This makes writers a little crazy...and is why I tell my writing
workshop students that they should be aware of the subtext of what
they've written, and do whatever they can to make it consistent with
the story they want to tell.

“Can't wait to see Hidalgo, whatever metaphors I bring to it. ”

”Every man is bound to leave a story better than he found it.”
—Mary Augusta Ward

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