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16 February 2007 @ 06:58 am
Q & A - #13 - "Why did you become a writer?"  
Q & A - #13 - "Why did you become a writer?" ~ christy_lenzi

I've never been a relativist. When I see the world, I see absolutes. I see truth. I see beauty. I see story. I may not see it all the time and I may not see it clearly, but I know it's there. Or should I say, he's there?

I'm a teacher by nature, I think. When I think of a classroom of fresh minds hoping not to be bored and fighting not to learn something, this thrill shoots through me. With so many kids gelling their minds in iPods, X-boxes, HD-TVs, Wiis, and DVDs (none of which are bad in themselves), critical thinking and the ability to think through the complexities of our world have all but disappeared. The enjoyment of reading has dwindled. Many teens (and adults) I've talked with see thinking as a chore or a job for someone else. They view reading as boring.

I see their lack of critical thinking as having not realized how much power there is right thinking. I see their boredom as not yet having found the right book. I see quality books as one of the keys to unlocking beauty and power. Because they do that for me.

I remember writing my first story my senior year in high school. My honors English teacher decided to break from the curriculum and have us try our hand at writing a couple of short stories. I loved it. I told the nonbiographical story of a young man tired of everything -- football, friends, family -- who wrote a letter to his family and walked into the ocean until it swallowed him. "The Letter" it was called. In college, I jumped into computer science before switching over to English Education with an option in Creative Writing. I told stories about dream sequences of car chases and guns, twin brother murderers, Old West fist fights in musty saloons, senior pranks with helicopter scoops of ping pong balls, and grandfathers dying without faith. The more I learned about telling stories, the more I wanted to tell them better. The more I wanted my readers to read them better. The more I wanted them to "get" the stories the same way I did.

Nothing grips me the way a powerful story does, whether it's a book, a movie, or a life. I don't think that's by accident. Our magnetism toward story and beauty lies deep in the fabric of our humanity, which is another something that science and evolution cannot explain. Why are we so moved by story? Could it be because we sense the workings of a greater story and crave those moments when we feel a part of it? Whatever the answer, I feel when I've told a story that moves another soul, I've done something lasting.
______________

I'll be answering one of these questions a day for as many questions as I have, so if you've got anything you wish you could know about me,
ASK IT HERE.
 
 
 
christy_lenzi on February 16th, 2007 05:23 pm (UTC)
Thanks for answering my question. It's interesting to hear about your journey.

>>I've never been a relativist. When I see the world, I see absolutes.<<

This quote could appear at odds with a desire to use "critical thinking and the ability to think through the complexities of our world." Isn't that an oxymoron--to be married to an absolutist view while disassembling it at the same time? It seems like it would be difficult to hold both views whole-heartedly. How do you handle it?

I like what you say about humans' craving for story. I recently came across something Philip Pullman wrote about this love of story--he talks about it in relation to our stories of religion and science. Here's the link to the page on his website: http://www.philip-pullman.com/pages/content/index.asp?PageID=123
The Blog of Author Jonathan Stephensjonstephens on February 17th, 2007 01:55 am (UTC)
You're correct in observing that this quote could seem like an oxymoron. That's the beauty of it. No matter which direction I go searching for truth, I find it. All seeming contradictions smooth themselves out the more I learn.

Why does "critical thinking" have to equal "disassembling absolutes"? In the gravity of my experience, it means "discovering absolutes."
christy_lenzi on February 17th, 2007 04:14 am (UTC)
I mean that when someone engages in critical thinking, the whole idea is to pick apart what they think they already know. Pick it apart in earnest. If somebody goes into critical thinking mode with the idea of disassembling their ideas of absolutes, and not expecting to discover absolutes, then I'd call it critical thinking, no matter what results they came up with.
The Blog of Author Jonathan Stephensjonstephens on February 17th, 2007 07:16 am (UTC)
That's the thing though. I do what you're suggesting -- disassembling my absolutes and removing the falsehoods during my learning experience -- but when I put everything back together, I always find myself at a closer understanding of the absolute I know has been there all along.

Now perhaps we have different definitions of "disassembling absolutes." When I disassemble any ideas, I remove falsehood, inaccuracies, illogical thoughts, lies, deception, etc. What I'm left with is truth. Yes? That's how I see it anyway.
(Deleted comment)
The Blog of Author Jonathan Stephensjonstephens on February 17th, 2007 01:55 am (UTC)
Isn't teaching grand? I'm glad you enjoy it.

And thanks.
ryan_fieldryan_field on February 17th, 2007 12:24 am (UTC)
Never been a....
Good one.
The Blog of Author Jonathan Stephensjonstephens on February 17th, 2007 01:56 am (UTC)
Re: Never been a....
??? I must confess...I'm a smidge lost.
ryan_fieldryan_field on February 17th, 2007 06:41 pm (UTC)
Re: Never been a....
Sorry. I just took part of the first line of the post...There's no hidden meaning:) I really liked the post and thought it was a "good one". Actually, I had a few hours to kill last night and that post made me go back and read a few more of your short stories.
bostonerin: kissbostonerin on February 17th, 2007 01:00 am (UTC)
This gave me chills. Thanks for sharing it.
The Blog of Author Jonathan Stephensjonstephens on February 17th, 2007 01:41 am (UTC)
Good chills...me hopes?