2015 Convention

Borderlands and Enchantments: A Writer’s View

Petroglyph National Monument Credit: Verna Wood
Petroglyph National Monument Credit: Verna Wood

Robert DurborowRobert Durborow
Student Advisor, 2014-2016
Pi Omega Chapter
Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights, KY

“Borderlands and Enchantments” are perfect themes for me as a writer. I would go so far as to say the theme of our upcoming Sigma Tau Delta Convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico, embodies what writing is all about, at least in my opinion. I think of borders as boundaries to the next place along my path as a writer, and I push my personal borders on a regular basis. I might add I do so with the specific aim of enchanting my readers; that is, to keep them reading.

Petroglyph National Monument Credit: Verna Wood
Petroglyph National Monument Credit: Verna Wood

You might think I refer only to creative writing. You would be mistaken. Writing is all about the enchantment of the story, the words we writers lay out along our borders to tell the tale or make our point. That’s true if we’re trying to instruct or entertain. It’s all about getting the message across to the reader in an engaging way. Again, my opinion, but you can see my point, yes?

Like a Diné (Navajo word for “The People”) storyteller, we writers seek to enchant and/or educate our audience. We begin within familiar borders and enchantments that are easy to recognize and believe, such as the sun rises or the Dursleys were perfectly ordinary (thank you very much). I like to get myself firmly entrenched inside such mundane borders…then release my literary hounds.

I’ve found one effective way to expand my borders is to let all Hell break loose. Let’s face it, it’s outside those well-known borders we find the wily trickster, discover Harry is a wizard, or understand why E=mc2. In short, that’s where the fun is. Tell me you weren’t shocked when Snape killed Dumbledore or awed the first time you saw a homerun (E=mc2). See what I mean? Fun!

Rio Grande Credit: MarbleStreetStudio.com
Rio Grande Credit: MarbleStreetStudio.com

I do a lot of different writing at this point: creative, technical, critical, etc. My borderlands may consist of scientific data, rules of magic, poetic verse, Derrida’s view on this and that, or the history of a society; it doesn’t really matter. What I learn about the world, my limits, and myself adds up to enchantment every single time. The extent of that enchantment is limited only to how well I understand my borderlands and how far I am willing to push those ever-expanding boundaries. I just hope my readers are half as enchanted as I am.

I’m not the greatest writer…but I’m also not the worst. Let’s just say I don’t suck at writing as badly as I did a few years ago and call it a day. I do have some advice, though, as we approach this year’s convention. As you discover your own borderlands and write your way into new ones, enjoy the journey, savor the enchantment, and every now and again…give it a nudge. Step across your established borderlands and see what new enchantments await. Do that, and the story will never truly end.

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