Sunday, September 5, 2010

Literary Traps

When traveling in the real world I believe in packing light, but not so in the world of story.

We all bring baggage, or traps (short for trappings), to our reading and writing; everything from traumatic experiences we had as children, to favorite pets, bullies, unsuccessful relationships -- you name it.  All this and more affects how you interpret what you read as well as what you write about and how you write it.

Just as our life traps affect our ongoing life, our past reading and writing give us new traps that affect our future reading and writing.  They also affect our real life.

The more literary traps we carry, the fuller our experience of story can be, and it spills over into "real life" as well.

For instance, I can no longer see a fox without thinking of The Little Prince; and I can't think of The Little Prince without thinking of wheat fields in the breeze, and loss, and airplanes; which makes me recall flying my dad in a Cessna one Colorado autumn over a pumpkin patch; which brings up The Headless Horseman; which naturally introduces Rip Van Winkle; which reminds me of my Hudson River; then Hudson Bay way up north; polar bears; The Golden Compass; churches and religions; The Da Vinci Code; rose windows; rose hips; the dying community of the Shakers (where I had rose hip ice cream on a field-trip); the Shakers trigger thoughts of death, and almost-death, and missed opportunities; then Ethan Frome; A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court; Le Morte d'Arthur; Beowulf; trolls, and trickery; Douglas Adams; So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish; rain gods; American Gods; The Three Kingdoms; honor and duty and courage; Sam Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings; oliphaunts... elephants inside boa constrictors -- oh -- we're back to The Little Prince.

Quite a trip, wasn't it?  Some traps are good to get into.


  1. Please tell me it took you a while to think this through. I tried to come up with something relevent to comment. Couldn't. Maybe next time!

  2. Sorry, it didn't take long at all. That's just the way my mind works -- it's a like a blender in there.