“Necessity is the mother of invention.”—Aesop’s Fables
“Sooner or later, everyone comes to Rick’s.”—Casablanca
Hi. My name’s Marion.
In August, 2007, I went to the Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference. My fee included a one-on-one meeting with a literary agent. She was a real agent from a high-powered New York-based literary agency, and she had complimentary things to say about my writing, right after she told me that she doesn’t represent category (genre) fiction. (“Your writing is so good, your characters real and human,” she said. “Do you really need a fantastical element? These characters could live in a mainstream novel.” This seemed, to me, sort of like saying to Neil Gaiman, “That Sandman epic? Amazing! Your story and words are so powerful. Do you really need those pictures?” But I digress.)
One piece of advice the agent gave me: “You need a story. Not the story you’ve written, but a story about you. Publishers want an author they can get excited about, who has a story to tell, a point of view.”
So how to do you invent, or re-invent, the story of yourself? You can play with words: “I’ve never actually been in the CIA.” You can lie: “I remember watching the rings of Saturn pass my window but nothing much before that.” You can borrow and hope nobody else notices.
The blogsphere, like the city of Casablanca in the movie, is a place where people from anywhere go to reinvent themselves, hide out from the past; a place where you can buy that really good fake ID, those letters of transit, that bogus passport, where you can get your story straight, or at least get it together. So here I am.
I buy green, I vote blue, I wear black because it’s supposed to be slimming. I drink whites but I can talk about reds. I live in northern California, in one of the most beautiful places in the world, where it’s hard to drive to work on a spring day, into the light of a glorious sunrise, to stare at the gnarled black-trunked oak trees, radiant egrets, soaring birds of prey, and not be touched by a sense of joy. I am an open-minded skeptic. I believe science is the new religion and demographics the new superstition. I have a lot of opinions, and even more questions.
And now I’ve come to Casablanca. I’m fresh off the boat. The bar doors are swinging open, and I’m walking in. You played it for them; you can play it for me. Play it, Sam.