For twenty years I functioned off of a high school education. I had gone to college for my freshman year, and I did do some trade school stuff later, so it’s not as though I completely stopped learning. However, there is a lot of difference between DIY learning and structured, scheduled learning. Both have their merits but I’m definitely getting more out of going to school than I did teaching myself.
Most recently I have taken a world literature class, and I couldn’t be more excited about all of the types of writing I’ve been exposed to. This is just an 8-week course, but I’ve read Tolstoy and Kafka, Shakespeare and Goethe, as well as many others. One who caught my attention that I’d never heard of before was Jorge Louis Borges, who writes Magical Realism.
Magical Realism is a style of storytelling where the story begins normally, in the everyday world, but subtly the author twists the story, adding elements that strike a reader as being not quite right, and then there are elements of magic involved and it heightens the story’s climax and ending. This isn’t Harry Potter levels of magic, it’s much subtler than that. My favorite story so far involves a spy who tries to send a message to his Captain by murdering a person, only to discover the person has a document that unlocks the mysteries of time travel, and knew he would show up. It is so much more than I’m explaining, but it’s still only a ten-page short story.
I first heard about this particular style of story from my friend and author James High, and I was intrigued by his explanation of it but I didn’t remember if he mentioned any authors or I just forgot them by the time I got home from our meeting. I could have just asked… but here is where the structured, scheduled schooling benefits. I didn’t have to read it when James brought it up. However, when it rolled around in class, there I was, reading it.
Reading something so different than anything I’d ever read before provoked a lot of thought. I was interested not only in the new genre of storytelling, but I also had to think about how the stories were created; this particular author seemed to select every word with the deliberate consideration of a mason building a stone wall. I could appreciate the artistry even as I marveled at it. Seeing it for the first time was like watching a flower blossom, only to find a tiny galaxy in the center.
As this is something I just read as of yesterday, I have yet to find out any more about it quite yet, but I will. It was refreshing learning something completely new, and so outside of my current skill set. This is the kind of thing that going back to school was meant to do. Point me in new directions, expand my experience to create stories to share with the world.