Stories and the World #2: Oxford.

When I think about stories what I try to do is make sure I pay attention to where I am, and reveal a little of myself to you. Get you a little drunk with ideas and dramatize the world we live in. 

We tell stories to reveal something to ourselves.
These stories come in all shapes and sizes. We’ve been telling stories since the dawn of time in the form of cave paintings, through pictures and words that eventually became hieroglyphics, then Latin, then our current alphabet. Those words came back together to form the comic book—visuals told with short, poetic phrases. “Less is more” and “omit needless words” as my first writing teachers taught me, that I’m still learning. The visual descriptions in panels can become paragraphs steeped with word pictures, or “words for pictures, as Brian Michael Bendis writes about in his book on writing comics. The paragraphs form the internal organs of stories. Those stories become the fabric of our lives. Nonfiction becomes fiction, and vice versa. 

 “What’s the difference between fiction and nonfiction?” 

One of my tutors asked me this in the summer of 2002. There is no difference. That’s what I learned when I was at Oxford University’s Somerville College—the same school Margaret Thatcher attended. My tutor, teaching me Middle English Literature, encouraged me to read Patrick O’Brien’s Master and Commander series. He asked me this question and I started paying attention to my surroundings. Carrying around a notebook more and more. The pub crawls, traveling to Belgium alone, the fight in Dublin after visiting the Guinness factory like every good American tourist. Stonehenge. All that bleeds into the fabric of my story, leading to connection. 

You must feel deeply and write honestly to connect with someone you may never meet. 

Some stuff gets fictionalized to enhance our day-to-day life. 

I went to the number seven party school in the nation from 1999-2003. In my junior year at St. Bonaventure. I lived in what was called a “garden apartment” with five other guys. We had a bench press in the living room, played Tiger Woods golf on the original Sony Playstation, and X-Men Children of the Atom (Iceman forever!) We listened to Incubus’s “Seven Shades of Green” on repeat while benching. Throwing parties every weekend to fund food shopping, at each party we walked with about fifty bucks in our pockets. It was at this point that I felt the need to tell stories. Fictional ones. Maybe this story is one of them. What do you think? 

In one road trip, I wrote a zombie-hunting road-trip from Rochester to Buffalo to Cleveland where my roommates and I fought off zombified classmates during Columbus Weekend. We fought, we insulted each other, we had a smoke room. More time was spent in the library since all I wanted to do at the apartment was bench, sleep, and party. I sat down and did my work in the library until it was done. Returned to the apartment to get my reward. And then I got into Oxford. 

To be continued…

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