Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Naive Narrator

1. After a night of uneasy dreams, Shelly Lowenkopf awoke to discover he had turned into Donald Duck.

2. At first this disturbed him because he does not fancy the way Donald Duck ordinarily dresses, preferring instead those off-adventure times where he wears dinner jackets or safari gear, where for all purposes he is set forth on some vector of enjoyment that we viewers know will quickly come tumbling down about him.

3. Forgetting the sartorial aspects of Donald Duck, Shelly feels kinship because of the temper element. No one is quite so expressie of temper as Donald Duck, not even Shelly Lowenkopf, try as he might.

4. This will not be the first time Shelly Lowenkopf has found himself transmogrified into the cranky canard. This time the transformation came as a follow-up on yesterday's blog entry, as a kind of validation or ratification of something long present but not properly thought out.

5. Basically, to cut through all the intermediary stuff, it is to keep working at a thing--a story, an essay, a review--until there is that connective moment when an association of some unexpected sort comes through. Without the connection all is boredom and affectation. With it comes the chance of an involvement that pushes toward the unthinkable.

6. You mean risk offered, risk taken?

7. Yes.

8. No risk, no go?

9. Right.

10. Is this why things take longer?

11. Not longer so much as things take their own time. Sometimes it is right now. Sometimes it is months, in some cases years. That goddamned Cro-Magnon story I lost when the Zenith computer died and which has been haunting me for some time is starting to come back. Sonny, the protagonist of the story, encounters Lefty in a remote cave, drawing pictures on the walls. That part has been around for a while but now, thanks to yesterday's blog entry, there are chickens in the cave. Of course the entrance to the cave is blocked, keeping the chickens in. What are you doing with those chickens, Sonny asks. Trying to see, Lefty says, if they'll domesticate. If we're going to stop being hunters and gatherers, we need to domesticate some protein. Who says we're going to stop being hunters and gatherers? Just in case, Lefty says. I don't know, Sonny says. I kind of like moving around. Somebody's got to watch the crops. What crops? The crops that would be planted if we stopped being hunters and gatherers, started making things that lasted. You know, shelf life?

12. It is like ten years on this goddamned story and I've been pushing Fagan for nearly five years to write a book on the Cro-Magnon so that in the editing process I'd become reimmersed in the story.

13. You'd do that just to get a short story?

14. Can't help it.

15. So is this what you mean when you say that for every new story you have to learn how to write all over again?

16. Yes.

17. Ouch.

18. You got something you'd rather do?

19. Excuse me, I gotta go check on the chickens.


R.L. Bourges said...
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x said...

This is a good reminder about how very long it can take to craft a good short story and that it is a very different process than blogging, and that you in fact do take the risk of waking up as a Shelly Lowenkopf Duck or a Gregor Samsa Beetle or as a Tiv Polar Bear clutching to an ice float.

R.L. Bourges said...

Take II: are we sure Lefty and Sonny are both guys? Their discussion almost sounds like a man and a woman deciding on the best way to get to the highway - through the shortcut or by the long and winding scenic drive.