Stranger than Reality, Genuine as FictionJul 22, 2021
Why would an organization, whose main objective is education, have a podcast that is solely based on short-story fiction?
Easy. Reality is too strange and fiction stimulates thought, opinion, strategy, empathy, compassion, solution, and imagination.
Fiction is a safe haven for the composer and the consumer.
It is in story we are moved. And it is in story, written or read, that we are invited to think for ourselves—from ideas and opinions about the content that belongs only to us.
Recently. our nine-year-old son, Sam, finished reading a series of books. He had fallen head over heels with the adventures of a boy, close in age to Sam. So enchanted with the hero of the books, Sam began reading them again. And then he learned, the books had been made into a movie.
I suspected he might have to be sedated. Unable to contain himself, Sam brought me $9.11, in change mind you, so that I might purchase the movie on Amazon for him.
A few clicks on the Smart T.V., with copious amounts of popcorn, sodas, and Junior Mints, the Amerines hunkered down for movie night.
Five minutes into the show, Sam voiced his offense.
“That’s not what I thought he looked like? He didn’t live with his dad? He lived with his mom and step dad? Why is he so tall? In the book they said he was shorter than all his friends?”
This went on and on.
“That isn’t what happened? I don’t understand? Why did they change it?”
Disappointment followed and Sam opted to go read, rather than watch.
So what is it that happened to Sam’s beloved hero on the silver screen that didn’t jive with what he had created in his mind?
It doesn’t matter, what matters is that he knew the difference.
We can watch the news, mini-series, one-hit wonders, and loosely translated versions of the truth or lies, and it is always available to us, one right click away. But we were created to create. Reading story, if you will, allows us to create images and visions that are suited to our palates.
We imagine from places of our experiences, hopes, and dreams. We identify with characters when we allow ourselves to create images that resonate with our being.
My favorite book of all time is Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns. There is one character in the book that is etched in my memory. The character, who is somewhat a villain in Cold Sassy Tree, in my mind, is the spitting image of my fourth grade, monster of a teacher, Mrs. Drummond. As Burns began to describe the woman, she came together in my mind as the greatest human witch I had ever known.
But this is of relevance. While I don’t know what truly made my fourth grade teacher so very toxic, reading about the woman from Cold Sassy Tree, her trials, heartbreak, and suffering made me consider my humiliations and hauntings from the fourth grade with fresh eyes. I am not sure why Mrs. Drummond preyed upon elementary children. But if her life had met with any of the hardships that Burns wrote about in her novel, I get it.
And in an instant of fictional story web making, I made peace with Mrs. Drummond.
When my co-creator Katie M. Reid and I created changeyourmindchangeeverything.org we knew, as mothers of eleven children combined, that we, together with our families had experienced exponential growth and positive changes by implementing what we wanted to share. But our issue was, our six-years of writing, speaking, teaching, and publishing, wasn’t targeted at the proper audiences for our new ventures.
The idea of starting from scratch was daunting. And, when you create an audience, they are going to want to be offered something of value. Yes, we know our two courses socialwisedu.org and honorableu.org have revolutionary practices for families, but what else can we offer?
When Katie and I get together the cosmos of creativity collide, but for this one piece of the puzzle we were stumped. We love our audiences, we want to continue the work we started in those spaces. However, haven’t all of you, whether you follow Katie or me or whomever, heard just about enough?
24-hour news networks, video on demand, 5G, lightning downloads, all of it seems… too much.
It was Katie, who had only recently launched her first fiction Rom-com, A Very Bavarian Christmas that said, “What if we did a short-story fiction podcast?” This was music to my ears. My second manuscript was fiction, and I am half way finished composing a fiction book and proposal, “Jane the Ripper: The Church Lady Killer.” So I perked up and inquired, “How would this serve the Change Your Mind audience?”
And she said, “We will end each episode with a quality question to ponder.”
Katie is a singer and songwriter, so had she sung her answer to me, it would have sounded just as melodious.
I agreed, this was a remarkable idea. And so, you ask, why fiction?
We say, to engage your mind, lift your spirit, imagine, change the ending, analyze, laugh, cry, recount, reminisce, and rest. Yes, take a rest from the hustle and bustle, fast thinking, scrutinizing, fear based, fight or flight, commonalities of life in a world that is often more cyber than real.
I doubt it is ironic that my next book, that launches in November is called Rest, Girl. But Katie’s remarkable podcast thought has brought me a whole new level of rest. It is in the composition and consumption of fiction that my mind gets to play. It doesn’t have to be grieved by what “they are saying…” now.
And while I am no longer a watcher of the news, even now, when I catch glimpses of this or that calamity, I have created a space where I am fully aware of real versus fake, for me and not for me, and rest.
It is our hope that is what you find on our podcast.
A moment to yourself, to laugh, breathe, and think. We have high hopes that each story will stay with you in a positive way. One that reminds you, “I don’t have to feel the stresses of society every single moment of every single day.” You can change your mind simply by allowing it space to create, contemplate, consider, and rest. But not from the dire straights of hardship. No, we want you to experience a moment of solace with stories that are relatable, but not burdensome.
Certainly, our characters are realistic and some may remind you of a rough patch or maybe one or more might not be your favorite. But even in those incidents, your thoughts are yours.
You are not being asked to pick a side, battle, or platform. It is simply an opportunity to kick back and let your mind wander through story.
I can’t think of many opportunities we have to escape from the pandemics, offenses, defenses, break ups, make ups, legislatures, elections, highs and lows, in this fast paced culture. I am so proud of this space where we offer a few minutes to just breathe and imagine.
Simply because it is a form of remarkable thinking and much needed rest.
We are so glad you are here. Take a beat, take a breath… and listen in.
Remarkably, Jami Amerine
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