Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Experience: A Primordial Soup Ingredient

This weekend, I bicycled from the east gate of Yellowstone National Park to Buffalo Bill Reservoir. It was about 45miles and was for a charity annual bicycle ride called Wild Horse Century. Riding my bicycle down a road I've driven dozens of times was a new experience on several levels. On one level , I feared riding where I could encounter buffalo or grizzle bears. On another level, I relished seeing a scenic highway at a slower pace.

Below is a post I made on a forum that pertains to experience.
I think it’s interesting when writers say-I don't read this genre because it’s not what I write; or-I don't read that genre because I don't like it. When I was studying and painting art, I couldn't imagine saying - I don't look, read, or learn about that artist because it’s not what I paint.

I have read something in a lot of genres. I would critique almost any genre because storytelling does have basic common elements that you can address. I do understand not wanting to read horror because it gives you nightmares or erotica because it bothers your Puritan sensibilities. There are classic and well written examples of these genres - Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and Little Birds by Anais Nin.

“I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life. And I am horribly limited.”
― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

The Sylvia Plath quote sums gathering experiences up poetically though she ends it with a sad line, ‘And I am horribly limited.’ I think she was saying her life was limited in that she had to keep a house and take care of her children instead of experiencing life. I would argue there is a world of experienced in such a life. Also, imagine the experiences one can feel, think, and be a part of in reading a variety of books in a variety of genres.

If I critique, read, or write in a genre I am not familiar and is not my favorite, then I have read the books I never imagined I wanted to read; I experience the people I might want to meet and lived the lives there are possible to live; and lived and felt all the shades of life. Books are an incredible way to inexperience life and enrich one’s writing craft. Why limited yourself to one type of experience?

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