Whenever I write (or read or watch TV or a movie), I am always torn between my unquenchable thirst for a sum total statement on humanity- a zen takeaway that changes my actual personality, and a story so tightly knit that it doesn’t need a sum-total-anything other than what is or isn’t the story. Firefly was that story, for me. Breaking Bad. Haroun and the Sea of Stories. The Phantom Tollbooth was both. Ayn Rand’s stuff was the former, but then she turned out to be a moist statue of actual corn laced turds so, oh well. It’s hard for me to be ok with writing or cinema that isn’t one or both of those things. I want every last drop from whatever I’m reading, writing, or watching.
I like a sum total. I tend to do it even when it isn’t necessary. I’ve wondered if my compulsion for a sum total has to do with my yen for fairy tales. I have had a vague obsession with fairy tales and fables since I was a kid. I have a loosely formed plan to make my next year on Medium (after the daily challenge) be formatted around ideas I have for modern fairy tales. They’ll probably be crass and twisted. Whatever so were most fairy tales. YES THEY WERE you hush.
My feeling is that writing the stories that give me my sum total satisfaction will either lead me to realize why I want the sum total, or they won’t, but will at least trick me into writing more short stories, and so basically, it’s a win-win either way.
Maybe I feel like a sum total is fairy tale.
It’s a beautiful perfect package that never happens because nothing that is worth anything in life is tidy enough to be totaled. And, maybe I love sum total writing because it makes the facets of life that do shine with perfect light catch the sun a little more readily. Maybe I need the sum total in writing because I need to remind myself that those facets are on prisms everywhere around me, even if I can’t always see them; even if they aren’t constants. Maybe I want the sum total fiction because it helps me practice striving for it, exquisitely fleeting as it is, in my non-fiction grind.
And maybe that’s ok.