Wednesday, February 23, 2011

shifting gears

I had a very interesting conversation with the gorgon last night. Seems she feels that focusing my undivided attention upon her is making me a bit myopic. She may be right. I’ve always favored variety over the uniform, no matter how hot the person wearing it. One of the very reasons I’ve not tackled a full novel yet. Well, not fully. It isn’t that I get bored, really, so much as I tend to miss the finer points of the narrative, because the surprise factor has been negated and the long-range goals have become the paramount concern.

It’s a common problem amongst a certain kind of writer. There are those, after all, who cannot even begin to sit down and transcribe the unfolding drama within their cranial capacitors until a framework has been established, an arc formulated and a climax prescribed. Then and only then can they begin to add flesh, sinew and bone to their piecemeal creations. It’s the kind of storytelling much lauded in bastions of higher learning, where creativity is tempered and labels are eagerly earned by the easily led. Not that this is a bad thing, it just isn’t my thing.

No, I’m the type of writer who thrives on the unknown. I don’t necessarily need a framework on which to hang my phantasms. They cavort and gambol with Puckish abandon, whether I will it or not. For me, it’s enough to know that there is a story lurking, there in the darkness. A flash of promise. A beckoning finger. A glint of mischief in a capricious eye. A startling beginning that begs to be explored. That’s what I live for. Once my attention has been drawn and my mental quill liberally doused in the blood of Orpheus, it is the characters themselves who tell the tale. Most times I’m not even aware where they’re going with it or what the ultimate outcome will be. I’m not only okay with that, I crave it.

All of which makes it very difficult to return, day in and day out, to the same well of inspiration. Yes, the larger tale still begs to be told and yes, there are still a few surprises left, but for the most part, the narrative itself has been laid out like the Appian Way. Dangers may lurk around the bend, but the greater danger is creeping parochialism borne of predictability. We have come to the conclusion, therefore, that I need to step away from the book for a while. Gain an appreciation for the forest again. Which isn’t to say that I’ve given up completely on Otherwhen and the unfolding story within. Not hardly. We’ve just decided to take a break.

There are other stories that have been clamoring for my attention, of late. Dreams that have gone unrecognized. Voices that have become insistent. Visions that have become distracting. I may need to spend some time sorting through those and giving the stronger tarradiddles their due. Interestingly enough, some of those trifles may very well find themselves becoming part of the Otherwhen tapestry. They’re just that kind of concept. Others may not. It’s all good. All I really have to do is drag out the mental formaldehyde, and pin some of the winged beasties down on paper with an ornate punctuality. Get it out of my system, so to speak. Then I can return to the task at hand and give the gorgon her due.

She’s very understanding about all this, my lovely lethal gorgon. She should be. It was her idea. I wonder how much sway Pufnstuf had in the decision? Yeah, he was there, too, an officious maitre d keeping the rabble at bay while we sorted through our differences; distractions by Oscar Wilde and John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus ensemble orgy, notwithstanding. It’s a lush and fertile playground, my dream world. Which goes a long way toward explaining my creative ADD.

I blame it all on an oddly seductive Willy Wonka. The saucy gent has turned my head. Made me think of chocolate kisses bestowed by a lazy lash and the Hershey highways less traveled. There is a story there, just buggering to be told. And I, alas, am the humble instrument through which the madness must be funneled. I’m not complaining, mind you. Why should I? The gorgon has given her blessing, after all. And I, the avian primate that I am, must swoop to concur.

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