Fact and fiction — Whistler's next chapter needs good storytellers 

click to enlarge Reminiscence of the past, and looking to the future.
  • Reminiscence of the past, and looking to the future.

"Don't Dream It. Be It."

- Dr. Frankenfurter

I've been writing a lot of fiction lately.

No. No. I don't mean in Alta States. C'mon, be kind. This column is strictly reserved for true stories. Okay, so maybe true stories with a bit of opinion thrown in. Still, that's not what I'm referring to here.

I'm talking about the kind of writing where you can let your imagination gallop full and free. Where the only truth is the one the writer creates. And there's nothing more liberating to the imaginative mind. Mould a few characters from the clay of your own fancy, invent an outlandish situation for them to confront, and then stand back and let them work it out on the page (or the screen) before you. Voila – pure magic.

And it's amazing how quickly these characters take control of your story. You think your mind is driving the plot. You're sure the narrative is yours. But then, just when you're gazing out at the sky, thinking of the next words you're going to write, or maybe about the stand-up paddle session you're planning on that afternoon, or the crazy Hungarian novel you're reading right now, PAF! One of your protagonists revolts and leads the story on a completely different path than the one you had in mind. And it's way better than the narrative trail you'd proposed to take.

It's uncanny. Almost like you've invented this hauntingly real world — where people actually live and breathe and love and lose — only it exists in another dimension. And it takes on a whole reality of its own. Totally independent of your wishes. I mean, my made-up characters surprise me all the time. Do forbidden things, carry outlandish opinions, respond in ways I could have never devised. Maybe that's why it's so fun to embark on these fiction journeys. I set them in motion, sure, but I'm never quite sure where they're going to take me.

Which makes me wonder if God isn't the ultimate fiction writer....

But I digress. I was thinking of the Whistler story the other day. And all the characters who've been involved in its telling over the years. Franz and Al and Hugh and Mur and Joe... and Myrtle and Florence and Joan and Sara and Nancy and Ashleigh. And I realized just how much of a wild adventure tale this community has lived over the last forty-five years.

Now I know Whistler's alter ego, Alta Lake, existed long before skiers set tracks on the surrounding mountains. And the early lakesiders' stories offer an intriguing lens into that time. But for today's exercise, let's assume that the story I'm talking about started when a bright-eyed Norwegian transplant decided to convince his Vancouver buddies that a ski area in the Coast Mountains could be just as good as one in the Alps.

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