I don’t write to be symbolic and I cringe whenever I hear someone else say they do. I feel pretentious just hearing such shit. Why write a story if all it is is a way to show off the author’s high brow ideals and fancy philosophizing? God invented blogs (taste the irony there) and book reports for such masturbatory purposes. That said, none of that means that I believe symbolism and philosophy should not be a part of fiction. No, I don’t advocate vapid idiocy in written word anymore than I do in any other medium. Rather, what I believe is that a work of fiction should be a story first and a symbolic experience second. Tell me a fascinating tale with strong symbolic undercurrents and I’ll lap up every word. Phrase your politics and religion in such a way as to pass it off as a work of fiction and I’ll take my leave.
Write a story with the first draft. Write the shit out of that story. Tell the tale that you’ve been dying to hear, but no one’s telling. Pen that electric moment of inspiration that your muse just shoved through your skull. Make up an entire world because reality is a truly boring place to live. Write that story and then step back. Figure out what it is that story is trying to say. Is your tale of zombie apocalypse really a nihilistic reporting of how humanity doesn’t need to devoured to the point of extinction to be a barren waste? Run with that. Play that up a bit in the next drafts, all the while remembering how much you love that this is still a zombie story. Write a story about a serial killer only to re-read it and wonder why you suddenly feel like the world is so much dirtier than it seems? Maybe that story is expressing your deep distaste for the delusions people cling so dearly to. And finally a story that isn’t a shameless plug, how many people have read William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”, show of hands? How many people have heard that Faulkner himself just wrote it as a ghost story of sorts? Story came first, symbolism second.
I get it, who the fuck am I to tell you how to write your stories or how to enjoy your symbolism? I’m nobody, just some disembodied voice on the internet that maybe four people actually pay attention to. Well, this is my blog and these are my thoughts. Read the header, you were fairly warned.