The Ever Expanding Stage…

See full issue for 2017 06-05

As I write this I’m sitting by a pool in sunny Spain. I don’t mention this to inspire envy (though I do have a nice cool, cocktail and the pool is refreshingly empty) but rather because it got me thinking about language. I hated language studies in school. A terrible teacher combined with my natural shyness assured I never really grasped any French beyond asking if anyone can speak English (which is a great way to annoy the French, incidentally.)

So, being in Spain, where most people are understandably Spanish, every transaction is a tiny, humbling lesson in objectivity. Though most humans are united in basic understandings (yes I am pointing at this beer, yes I would like to purchase it) there’s a whole ocean of nuance that will forever be lost to me. 

Reading some Paulo Coehlo is a great way to spend your time if cozy spiritual philosophy is your jam, but what am I missing in the translation? If I can be moved by this re-jumbling of his phrasing, his voice, his nuance, then how much more effective would it be in his original words, as they were meant to be understood?

Humanity likes to puff out its chest and talk about final frontiers, but the fact is the vast majority of us have barely explored the unknown reaches of people a few hours away, let alone outer space.

It’s enough to make a fella feel small, and if this cocktail wasn’t so damned delicious I might even get upset about it. It is, though, so I won’t.

Back to that part about common human experience. It’s generally understood that there’s nothing new under the sun, that all roads have been walked and all genres explored as fully as they may be. Maybe that’s true, but often times it’s not really about the journey, it’s about the explorer. We can all look at the same sunset, but interpretation is where the art lives.

To be honest, you don’t have to speak a different language than I do to show me something new about the world. You don’t have to have come from strange and distant lands. All you have to do is speak honestly, and this wonderful thing will happen wherein we reveal our startling commonalities, and our amazing differences.

This is what is so wonderful about indie authors. No one yet has tried to squeeze you into a box. You have the amazing power to hold up something I see everyday, and make me see it differently. And you get that as a starter, before you even put pen to paper. 

That doesn’t guarantee your success, obviously. This is a circus, and when people want to see a juggler, you damn well better juggle. (But why stick to clubs? Why not juggle babies or puppies or live snakes? Why not all three, and really get on PETAS nerves?)

When people find out I’m a writer, one of the most common things that is said is something along the lines of; “Oh, I’d love to write a book, but I wouldn’t know where to start. I don’t really know what to write about.” 

At this point it’s enormously tempting for me to push them under a bus and remove the competition. I don’t, though, because I am an okay guy. What I usually say is more or less what I’ve said in this article. I say that before you put in all those hours finding out how to write, and what tale you want to tell, you start with the wonderful advantage of not being the other guy. 

And on the ever expanding stage of the internet, that might be just the advantage you need.


Steve Wetherell

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