Write...or Die Trying

I used to work in a factory. Now I work in an office. Either way, my writing was dying. So now I must: Write...or Die Trying.


The Value of The Stereotype

We might not entirely appreciate the idea of being stereotyped. But as a writer, I'm constantly amazed at how closely the vast majority of people I meet conform to their stereotype of choice.

Last night, my wife and I walked the long aisles of the local mall. I know I'm getting older and crotchetier, but that doesn't entirely explain these weird novelty shops that keep popping in and out of this mall's storefronts. I call them "I Want to be Someone I'm Not" stores. You know the ones I'm talking about: they sell lava lamps, plastic skulls that glow to the light of an ultraviolet lamp, and those electric plasma balls. Not only do the people that wander around inside these stores dress the same, they also talk the same, laugh at the same jokes, and buy the same tacky decorating fodder.

I'm eating lunch at Mr. Goodcents today. I work in a college town, so I see a lot of young couples like the one coming across the parking lot just now. The pair got out of their non-descript sedan of a car and the attractive female kept her little puppy from hopping out while she shut the door gently. The dog is running around on top of the dashboard, looking dangerously like he needs to pee. They're holding hands uncomfortably. There's an intimate distance between them that hints at the common, complicated relationship too many college students have that's predicated on sex. They don't exhibit that comfortable silence of two people who know each other very well, standing in line, and they almost wince at sharing the same floor tile.

Could I be wrong in my assessments? Of course. But as a writer and an aficionado of subtlety, I doubt I'd be far off the mark. That's what excites me about the power of literature, combined with the eye of a writer. The writer expresses common human emotions through the recognizable aspects of the stereotype. It's our job to be a student of human nature and use that to bring together people to wallow in those common feelings.

If people weren't so comfortably stereotypical, we'd have no tool with which to connect to our readers.


At 6/20/2004 01:36:00 AM, Blogger r said...

You know, I don't think I have ever heard you reference any female (other than your wife) as attractive....P.S. How is she liking Shadowmancer? E didn't like to too much, way to creepy for her and that's unusual for her as she is a fantasy novel chick. Am curious for wifey's opinion.

Oh, and I think stereotypes are the fastest medium with which to paint a picture for our readers. Well said, ZB.


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