As authors, we understand the concept of POV (point of view). When writing a story, the POV dictates the details we share with the reader and the tone we take. Each character in our story would require a unique POV if we chose to tell the story from that character's perspective. The reason is simple: no two characters share the same intersection of experiences, talents, beliefs, and emotions.
This is just as true in real life as it is in fiction. This is an important truth for Pirate Authors to internalize. Why? I'm gonna get a little "woo-woo" here. So if you're not in the mood for inspirational type hoo-ha about looking inside yourself then you should wait for next week's post when I'm sure I'll be back down to earth.
There are stories only you can tell.
Okay, so why is it important we recognize that no two people have the same POV in real life? The answer has two parts. First, there are stories that only you can tell. Second, if you don't lean into this truth, there are stories that will never be read.
We hear all the time that there's nothing new under the sun. There is no story that hasn't already been told a million times, and we're all just regurgitating the same dozen or so stories with different spins and riffs, etc. Sure, at the most basic level there are only so many stories that can be told and they've all been told countless times (sometimes more compelling than others).
The existence of Les Misérables does nothing to diminish This Wonderful Life. We can love them both and enjoy them both because they present unique takes on the classic redemption story. If you were to tell a redemption story stemming from your personal perspective, it would be unique.
Each of us stands at an intersection in life that we share with no one. I stand at an intersection that includes a rural Texas upbringing, intimate familiarity with clinical depression, an internationally adopted son, a sports background, a demonic exorcism, the authoring of over a dozen novels, a love for making my own wine, a laundry list of specific failures, and a pocketful of treasures.
Each of us stands at a unique intersection.
When I tell you that I see specific aspects of this reality that no one else sees, I'm not saying that I'm particularly brilliant or somehow better than everyone else. When I tell you there are things that I understand that other people don't, all I'm saying is that I have a unique perspective.
Guess what? You do too. You stand at a unique intersection. If you've seen the movie, Inception, perhaps it will help to think of this life intersection as an urban landscape jutting out in every direction and dimension. You stand at the center of it. Every aspect of the urban landscape originates from inside you. The relationships, the sounds, the passions, the fears. The intersection is you.
Here's the trick. Your intersection is colliding with an infinitely complex array of everyone else's. We're not alone in this world. But the person closest to you still has an astoundingly different view.
Only you can tell the stories that stem from your intersection. There are things in this human experience that only you can know...unless you share them. I suppose this is the kernel of truth behind the expression, "Write what you know." And this is a beautiful sentiment as long as we keep in mind that writing what we know can include things we have no clue about...as long as they are rooted in some aspect of our unique intersection.
Now you gotta translate what your seeing.
Writing the stories that only you can write isn't an automatic. In and of itself, having a unique perspective isn't enough to create your classic spin on an original tale. To tell the stories that only you can tell in a compelling manner you have to take the time to understand what you are looking at. Just because only you can see it, doesn't mean you'll automatically have any clue as to what you're looking at.
This is the woo-woo part. To be a Pirate Author, you have to understand the intersection of your own life. How do your failures and successes play into your marriage? How has your upbringing impacted your spending habits? Your education, your beliefs, your prejudices?
Can you believe that there are tasks in this life that can only be accomplished by you? Are you able to accept that there are mysteries that only you can solve? No one else has the same exact perspective. No one else has the exact intersection of skills and experiences necessary to see the correct option, to make the right choice, or to put all the disparate pieces together.
And now for my personal theory.
My personal theory? Writing is the process we use to interpret the sights, sounds, and smells at the intersection of our life. By attributing pieces of our intersection to fictional characters, we gain the distance we need to play around with the emotions--to see what feels genuine and what isn't quite right. Sometimes we land on something by mistake. We strike a chord in our own gut that's so visceral it brings us to tears or it makes us laugh out loud. In that moment, we connect with an aspect of our personal intersection. We understand a piece of the scenery from our intersection that we hadn't before and our power becomes that much greater. We become true owners and protectors of a cosmic truth entrusted uniquely to us.
What about those moments when a book strikes us like this? Those are examples of an author being faithful in sharing the truth they were given. It's a responsibility and privilege of the Pirate Author to study the unique intersection of our life and then to share the pieces we come to understand--the truths that only we can know...unless we share them.
Alright. Back to the practical stuff...until further notice.