At its most basic, desire simply means the protagonist wants something. If he can’t get what he wants, conflict ensues. A story is born.
For me, however, the relationship between storytelling and desire have another, more personal meaning.
That longing for something you can’t quite express, the hope for something that doesn’t quite exist in this world–that desire is at the heart of why I tell stories. It shows up in The Eternal Night Saga, in the forthcoming The Unremarkable Squire, and in many of my short stories.
I first really captured this in “The Memory,” my first truly “good” short story. If I may quote the opening:
It was a memory more precious than any other she had. It was worn and faded, frayed at the edges, but even extensive viewing had not distorted it. It had never had the feel of a memory, but of something else more elusive, something akin to a snatch of a dream or a scene from a book read in childhood.
Her memory was of lights and warmth and insubstantial shapes. It had no particulars, nothing real, only shadows of some reality, and brilliant lights, glowing like the sky on these cold, lonely nights. And warmth like a blanket, a fire, sleep on a dark morning when nothing is awake except the frigid wind.
The owner of this memory was sometimes less sure of her own name than of the reality of the memory. This frightened her. For if the memory was false, could she depend on her own existence? But she did not think on such things. She contemplated the memory, examining it endlessly, hoping to extract some clue or revelation from it. There was nothing. She gained nothing from it except a desire to continue forward.
“The Memory” is the opening story of Dreams & Visions, an ebook short story collection. All the works in Dreams & Visions deal with the idea of desire in some way. It’s a theme I keep coming back to.
If you’re interested, the ebook is available on Smashwords for free for a limited time (till July 31, 2012; use the code SSWIN). It’s also available on Amazon and most other major ebook retailers for a measly $.99.
If you read them and enjoy them, let me know. I love the stories. Maybe you will too.