So after that huge rant about ritual and stereotypes and the cultural specificity of the Hero’s Journey, I did actually get some writing done. It feels much more ritualistic, and that’s good. That’s what I need.
The great thing about stories being rituals is that, if it’s familiar enough, you get the reader to perform the ritual right along with you. That’s where the sense of inclusiveness comes from in stories like Harry Potter; it’s not just wish-fulfillment, but ritual-fulfillment, something that hundreds of millions of people can understand and find easy and intuitive to pick up and join in on. A story that feels inclusive is, to me, a successful story, and that inclusiveness is based on a cooperative project between story and reader, rather than the reader having something dictated to them – which is another reason I tend to steer clear of High Fantasy – like the difference between having a joke explained to you and having it told to you. In the first version, you’re not included in the process. In the second one, you are. You are part of the ritual when somebody tells you a joke, because you’re helping to perform the ritual by having it told to you.
Anyway, writing got done, and oh my god I wish this was the final chapter of this story that I had to write. I don’t at all regret writing this thing out of order, but I hate the fact that after this wrap-up, which will hopefully be awesome and cathartic and everything else that I love about writing endings, I’m going to have to go back and write some stuff that I am honestly not very excited about. Not overall. I mean it conforms to a lot of stuff that I wish I saw more of in stories: the build-up, the scene-setting, stuff that’s missing from, say, American Horror Story: Coven, which I just watched the first episode of today and … I’m torn. On the one hand it is cheesy and ham-fisted as fuck; on the other it’s viscerally enjoyable in exactly the way that black magic should be. There’s a reason why Inigo Montoya is everybody’s favourite character from The Princess Bride: revenge is sweet.
But there’s no build-up to the premise; we’re just dumped into what feels like the beginning of a second act, and given that this is a 13-episode season, it’s not like they didn’t have the time.
On the other hand, I know that it’s not that kind of story; that’s just the kind of story that I like. I don’t want a High Fantasy-length build-up, like what I remember of The Wheel of Time, where it takes 150 pages for the main character to discover that he is, in fact, the main character. But something. The chapters I have yet to write after this final one are all about scene-setting and build-up, and aside from one scene that amuses me I just don’t have any enthusiasm for actually writing this stuff, and I can’t for the life of me think of a way to make it interesting.
But none of that matters until I’m actually writing it, and for that to happen I have to write this chapter first. Well, I don’t have to, but I want to.
Shit maybe I don’t. Maybe I want to go back and write those other chapters first.
Meh. I’ll work it out tomorrow. For today: mischief managed.