They say that all the stories have been told. For a writer–or reader for that matter–this is intrinsically depressing. Why do we even bother?
We bother because it’s not so much the story we’re after. It’s the telling. Now before you your get your knickers in a twist, hear me out.
When I say story, I mean the basic arc of a narrative. The archetype, if you will. Sure there are some crazy twists and new takes, but it’s pretty rare that something entirely new will pop onto the scene.
This isn’t a bad thing. Part of what makes stories so powerful is the fact that they resonate; familiarity is what makes that possible. But it’s also because, within the telling, there is still so much room for variation. Limitless possibilities, an infinite number of stories to be told. As a writer–and reader–of genre fiction (specifically romance), I find the whole thing reassuring. I know what’s coming, but I’m still surprised. It’s like having my cake and eating it to.
So, if you’re still with me, you’re probably wondering what this has to do with the Eagles. Well, I’ll tell you.
This weekend, as we so often do in the summer, A and I built a fire and poured some wine.
The sun goes down. The fire roars. If A has anything to say about it, the Yacht Rock station comes on. Although we are both children of the 80s, she has a 70s fixation. I make fun, but it’s pretty entertaining to watch her get down to Hall & Oates. Who am I kidding? I do, too. But I digress.
It’s at this point in the evening that the conversations get interesting.And by interesting, I mean seemingly philosophical, but borderline silly. The kind of conversation that comes after a third glass of Cabernet.
Case in point: “One of These Nights” comes on. Great song, right? I’m sipping my wine and singing along and I get to the part where Don Henly says, “I’ve been searching for the daughter of the devil himself / I’ve been searching for an angel in white / I’ve been waiting for a woman who’s a little of both.” And it hits me. It’s just like when Ludacris says he wants “a lady in the street but a freak in the bed.” I share this revelation with A, who rolls her eyes but laughs heartily and refills my glass.
The moral of the story, other than me thinking I’m super clever? The stories may not be new, but the tellings sure are. And as a reader and a writer (and a casual listener to yacht rock and hip hop) that’s what makes it fun.