Friday, April 3, 2009

Journeyman Voyage of a Junior Cartographer-2

On the subject of mules (while I'm walking)...

Let's see now, mules have four legs and a tail. They have two floppy ears and a mouth only a mother could love, ditto on the teeth. And they've got a tough hide. So when you dig your heels into their sides, it takes a while for the impact to be felt. Mules are also stubborn, hence, the saying, but the stubborn can't always be seen.

Mules are like stories, stories are like mules. Stories have beginnings and endings and they also have middles. But these are the outsides, the ears, the teeth, the skin. The thing that can't be seen but that defines a story as such, can also be called the stubborn. Put it in italics if you wish.

The stubborn of stories are the many details that the writer never tells the reader but without which the story would never be written; it's almost the backstory, but more encompassing than that as it also includes things happening "off-stage" and things that will happen after the story ends. Without stubborn, I'd argue that a mule would lose a great deal of its mulishness. Without _stubborn_, the story loses much of its woven essence and ends up a pile of words jumbled together.

My mule still hasn't arrived, but I am done sitting here hoping that the mule will find me. I'm headed back to the village, and the guy who seemed so trustworthy had better have a convincing reason that the mule hasn't gotten here yet. If it is in the village, I will grab it by the nostrils and we shall begin again. If it isn't there, I will hunt it down. I'll get provisions if necessary, and I still have my plant book, so I'm in no danger of starvation.

There is land to be mapped; I will not be denied.

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