I speak for dead people—some with real historical lives that can be read about in books, some who live only in my head, but I hear them speak. Just because people are dead doesn’t mean they never existed. Just because people are dead doesn’t mean they don’t have a story.
The challenge for this writer is to portray these people as authentically as possible, a daunting challenge at best. Sometimes the facts of their story have been written down, at least some of the facts. As any writer or reader knows, sometimes there are big holes in the facts of someone’s story. How they thought and felt is another matter. Even writing what I think and feel about my own life can be a mission sometimes, at least in a way that others will feel compelled to read it. Throughout history, I bet people who journaled felt the same pressure, at least the ones hoping to publish–very tricky this stuff of portraying a story, anybody’s story. And what about the one’s who didn’t journal? Who speaks for them, especially when someone else tells their story and gets even the facts wrong?!
So, in walks the Trickster to help move this process along, sometimes referred to as one of the Archetypes found in all stories. Carl Jung, an inspired psychiatrist who explored mythology with the idea of explaining a collective consciousness, found Archetypes to be shared by all cultures, all human stories, just wearing different costumes, events, hairdos etc.. The Trickster with a dual nature—half animal, half divine—creates havoc for all, and presto-chango, here comes a story. One must have some sort of havoc to get the ball rolling, the story, that is—the events of a life. I have yet to meet or hear of anyone who doesn’t have a story.
How can I explain my need to write the words of the dead? The Trickster enters into my stomach (through a process I don’t entirely understand) and creates this “havoc” or a “gut feeling,” and away I go. I start hearing dead people talk. Dead does not mean silent, as long as there is someone to hear them and type down what they say (I hardly write anymore, my hand hurts). So, I hear it, and I type it. Whether or not the dead are happy about this, I have no idea. They haven’t said one way or the other, but they keep talking, and as long as they’re talking, I’ll keep listening, and typing, speaking for the dead, as best I can.
Then there’s music, I hear that, too. But that’s another story…
Green (my addition) Dragon from the 13th century Southern Song Dynasty.
Trickster, is that you?
And Happy Birthday to my daughter Ashlee! What a story she will tell…