Fiction mirrors the world around us. It mirrors our experiences, our thoughts and our emotions. However, this “mirroring” can also frustrate readers who are looking for answers or closure. Sometimes there is no answer. “The world, ” says author Christine Sneed, ” at least in my experience of it, doesn’t consistently offer the answers we are hoping to have when something ends- a relationship, a job, or in this case, a story.” In Jack Smith’s interview with Sneed, he explains how Sneed is able to capture the “deep interiority of her characters and how she portrays the “ordinary push and pull of human relationships, the uneasy dynamic of expectation and result, and the unwieldy prospect of human happiness.”
Learning how to tell a story can be circuitous as we learn though reading, through analysis and through deep listening to the world around us. Mirroring the stories that unfold around us allows us to create characters from pieces of someone else’s real pains and triumphs. We steal little bits of real people’s dialogue, recollections, and memories and weave them into our storytelling. The characters we create “make choices, like all of us in real life, and some choices are like stepping into a river. There will usually be undertows” and it is up to the characters, like real people, to find a way to keep from drowning.
Storytelling is about paying attention to the world around us and infiltrating the things we see and learn into the lives of the characters, into their thinking and their actions. In life, our struggles are not usually wrapped up in a tidy package with answers to all our questions. On the contrary, the world does not easily have resolutions to give us, and through mirroring this truth in our storytelling, we acknowledge the universal struggle, and we validate the push and pull of which we all must overcome. This way each of us might be able to find our own answers of which enable us to stay afloat.