Is it thrills, revelation…insight? Not for me, baby: it’s for the emotion. The shared experience, the tug on the heartstrings, that’s what ‘makes a story.’
It doesn’t have to be fiction.
Recently, I happened on a newspaper article that eerily mirrored my short story “Spinning the Baiji.’ The bald facts might not have been so moving – but I’d already imagined all the emotions behind the people’s motivations.
This summer, terrible drought in parts of Venezuela reduced some of the main rivers to less than half their normal size – and many a tributary shrunk down to unconnected pools. Some of those pools trapped helpless river creatures; like the legendary Boto, the pink dolphins on the Amazon. They are creatures known for their gentleness, their willingness to interact with humans…sadly stranded and quickly starving, cut off from the main river. The people might have grieved, standing on the banks, seeing animals in trouble. In China, the very last of their river dolphin (the Baiji) were recently declared extinct. You can imagine the sorrow, shared by people of a completely different nation, even continent, looking out at similar destination. They must have felt helpless and full of grief.
But wait: no, they didn’t. Didn’t grieve, I mean.
They went home for blankets and hoses and strapping, gathered friends and phoned scientists. People with next to nothing themselves set aside their lives and their chores and went to the rivers and ponds and pools. They gathered the helpless Boto and they carried them to open water.
These weren’t people trained in animal rescue – they weren’t necessarily people that fished, or had some other link to the river.
They loved the creatures they shared this planet with, and determined do what they could do to help.
Pink dolphins are one of nature's wonder: but a greater wonder is the connection people feel toward them.
Through a few terse descriptions in a mini-news blurb, I felt the love. A thousand miles away… in a world without river dolphin… I could still feel the love.
When writers write what truly moves them, readers feel the love.
For a fantastic video of the Boto:
For an updated news report on the Boto: The Daily Mail
I dreamed I swam beneath the surface of the sea. I spread my flippers wide like wings and glide on warm ocean currents. Soprano songs weave through the depths and I cannot help but join the chorus. Surfacing, I look at the land-bound as curiosities.
The community in the sea seems as real as any human gathering; families and cities of creatures live parallel to humanity, but significantly apart. My stories started with heartwarming ‘Flipper’ like images and have traveled toward more of a Spirit journey; in Echoes the Drum, the main character, Cori, tries to reach out and understand those ‘parallel’ lives. Compassion is her motive… Nancy Lindley-Gauthier, November, 2010