Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Devil in the Details and Interstices

Being brought face to face with your own quotation--something you have said or written or both--is not always comfortable. Particularly since I have come to regard blogging as a form of practice, a run up to essay, which extends even beyond practice. It becomes a way of testing out how I feel about what I do and how it is best for me to do so. Thus the possibility that I will change views or grow more certainly into a position.

I am reminded of this most recently thanks to having been asked by The Writer Magazine to do something about dialogue, which I did. They liked it well enough to schedule it for October. Now I am haunted by a sentence: "If we want actual speech, we can consult trial transcripts and depositions. If we want dialogue, we go to characters, listening to the words and the spaces between them."

In and out of context, I'll stand on the sentence, will not at this juncture in my life turn away from it as, say, the Senator from Arizona has turned away from some of his sentences and protestations and assertions of information he considers to be fact. I am haunted by the implications of "words and the spaces between them." This haunting leads to being haunted by the concept of connective tissue, the substance that holds separate things in some kind of relationship.

Thinking as I have for the past few days about putting a book or two together during the approaching summer, I look at some of these evidences of practice and essay. The space between notes, the space between words, the implications of a paragraph indent or a two-line space break--the connective tissue between ideas and concepts. In my way of seeing things, the connective tissue is the agenda and attitude of individuals, characters, humans. Whether these characters are based on real individuals doing things the real individuals did or did not do in real life, or whether they are complete fabrications, the reader must be convinced that such people were/are real and what they do is plausible.

How to achieve this goal? Connect dots, use convincing connective tissue, which is to say vital details as opposed to arguments. When a reader says I don't believe it, the writer needs to listen and not grow argumentative or defensive. The writer needs to learn how to use connective tissue to link things. The way to accomplish this is to write with clarity about things you believe are true, choosing words and the spaces between them with the greatest of care. But it really happened that way! Doesn't matter. What matters is the sense of implicit truth in the interstices.

Write only what you believe. Test. Essay. If you do not believe every line of your story, how can you expect your reader to do so?


Wild Iris said...

True to the writing or true to yourself. It really all comes down to being the same thing doesn't it.

GEM said...

Great advice - "Write only what you believe. Test. Essay." I'm putting this quote up on my easel, at the beginning of all my notebooks. Thank you! It applies so much to making visual art as well as to writing. G and GEM