WRITERS ARE CONTROL freaks.
It isn’t that we want to have our way in our own lives, it’s that we want everything and everyone to do exactly as the we want them to do. Writers want the stars to change, the weather to shift, the geography, the wild animals, tame ones too, countries, politics, every person, all destinies, every relationship, every thought…every dream needs to be just as we decide it shall be.
I didn’t know this until this morning. I didn’t realize that if there’s anything I don’t like in the world, I erase it.
The media, for instance, they chat about the few things they believe which will sell (they call it “News”), and whole cultures are bent to believe what’s reported is true.
Reporters, for instance, believe that sharks are thoughtless destroyers of the sea, and reading, we think that must be true, no matter the tens of millions of sharks that don’t much mind about humans nearby.
Or they believe that the twin towers collapsed a hundred floors, suddenly collapsed into their footprint because an airplane apparently hit them, and that a building nearby collapsed even without even a single touch from an airplane. It took me forever, to believe the buildings were deliberately demolished.
Because I had chosen to be a writer, and because I am a control freak, the day after September 11 was easy: I removed the television set from my house. Why should I see that piece of film another 20,000 times again? Because the media thought I’d be hypnotized to see it?
What a wonder! Television gone, no more commentators, no more film, no more beliefs of a hateful world, no more advertisers who agree what I should think and buy, never a vote from me to destroy whatever our politics and media wanted to destroy.
So of course I had to build a different world, easy enough, given the invention of the pencil and paper / the typewriter / the word-processing computer.
I removed most humans from a world of ferrets, wrote ferret astronomy, their geography, their weather; the animals were all of them seen from a ferret’s life, from their point of view. All of a sudden I was the loving media of The Ferret Chronicles.
What did I so dislike of the human world, left out to be trashed with the television set? On my delete-list were the ideas of wars, of crime, of victims, of hatred, of evil, of mortals’ fascination with killing others. Take all of those, wrap them in a magic tablecloth, and – pouf! – they don’t exist! Not for me, not for my books.
Ferrets are bright little animals to humans: graceful, quick, thoughtful, beautiful, they’re curious, they love action, they have a sudden sense of humor. They could be my world!
So five books were written (and one other, a collection that was all of the five combined).
Ferrets, without the bizarre human-driven failings, raised their kits with respect always, urged them to follow their highest right, to live the adventures they imagined.
There could have been dozens of the books, but the sales weren’t there, the books stopped at five. The last book was a paperback since the publisher decided to cut its hardcover losses.
But those five include the very best writing I’ve done, there was not a single Bad Guy in the series, and I hoped the books might be ones a young person could read to their parents. I loved the world of the ferrets, and so did some of the readers.
For me, the control-freak, there were storms and angel-ferret-fairies and subtle destinies for the ones who lived on the page. And one day I realized the bizarre truth…I preferred to live in the ferret world, not the human one.
We could change the human world, bit by bit, reader by reader, I thought. We could read the Courtesies of the ferrets, and to know that each reader didn’t need the human world to change, they could simply begin living now, to their own highest principles.
The one thing that we control freaks don’t often do, is to force our stories on readers. So today, unforced, there are just a few copies of the ferret books around the world, published in many languages.
There’s a full set of the series in English on my bookshelf, and on that shelf is my world. The stars, the storms, the striving to bring ideals into every-day life: here they are.
Maybe I haven’t transfigured the world of mortals, with my control freakishness, but I changed my own little world, and perhaps the worlds of a rare few readers, too, the ones who finish these rare books with a smile.