Monday, October 3, 2011

The Origin & Experience of Writing

My second post, running on from my first, will discuss in more detail my book. I do not mean this as an egoistical formulation, or in any sense a 'hard sell', but rather an opportunity to spread before you in soft script the theoretical origin of the work, its afterbirth and growth, and its ultimate end.

I first envisaged the thing, many years prior, as a Total Novel, in the manner of those nineteenth century doorstops, where several segments of soul are elaborated and conflicts are resolved over a months reading, where wars intrude on mountain caresses, where families bicker in Kantian cant about matters of heart and hand, and at last the halved hero tries to gaze back to the start, but forgets, and then frowns.

I recall while working in a restaurant even drawing up a rudimentary world map on an unsteady napkin, and plotting out in between orders, in autistic clarity, each journeypersons wandering end. 

But those plans eventually gave way to a more grouded goal, a more 'precise' construction, along the lines of the average novel.  I wanted the ratio of pleasure delivered on each page to be as undiluted as possible, and any superfluity banished.  Ahem... 

Thus over the progress of a year the piece came into the world.  I wrote it mostly with a bevy of helpful pencils on small arrangeable index cards, in the exact manner of a certain Zemblan master, and in the end these came to occupy three small white boxes, while their contents gradually filtered their way onto the computer screen.  The last transcribation was the hardest... One toe to the finish, oy.

The story in its final form is  technical and the universal, cliched even, certainly archetypical, and I will leave others to judge or glare.

An imagined and alternate land, surrounded by familiar nations in their Victorian glow, is beset by problems at home and beyond.  Magical creatures strut about, a deposed Prince slouches through the gloom, strange recipes sizzle and spit, and everywhere malign forces conspire to impose order.  

A vague description, for sure, but perfect detail is not a virtue here, and would undermine things.  

It underwent edits and redos, and some passages were expunged and never replaced.

My intention, finally, was for a work that, as implied already, provided to the reader the maximum possible pleasure per page, and that was all.

The experience of writing was not especially pleasurable.  Wild delusion was my chief driver.  Delusion is very important for large projects with extremely uncertain outcomes, as true for scribblers as it is for fresh restaurant owners.  But I only say that now.  I did not self-analyse as I constructed the thing, because I was so focused on getting to the end, so only afterward did I recognise the role of fantasy. When caught up in the process one tends to assume that once it is finished, then everything will be perfect.  Only... Have too... Finish...

This is good for keeping the will warm, but not especially rational.  Like a story itself, I suppose.  

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