Wednesday, July 15, 2009

When a Link Is More Than a Sausage

linkage--a useful connection between writing fiction and one or more other crafts; awareness of an outside analogy or philosophy to writing that, when applied, imparts another dimension to writing; a way of placing writing in a context that will result in helping the writer implement the originality of his voice.

Two obvious links to writing are acting and musicianship; all three are predicated on timing, all three convey emotion, all three have an individual rhetoric which, on closer examination, address the same concepts and techniques. 

Acting is a moment-to-moment representation of a theme or agenda under development. Musicianship relates to the performance of a particular work with the intent of development and interaction. All three disciplines are built around the same set of notions--relating a story.

Writers are more likely to recognize common interests among actors, seeing them as extensions of the characters the writers have created from whole cloth. The writer is perhaps slower to recognize the fact that their craft and the musician's craft each uses a system of notation in which time and timing play important roles, complete with notations to represent durations of time, intensity, and meter. 

 In addition, certain forms--rondo, concerto, symphony, etc--have thematic patters, extensive as such conventions for fiction as flash fiction, short story, novella, serial, novel.

The Japanese novelist Haruki Murikami openly expresses his fondness for jazz, having written copiously about the influences of the medium on his work, while Jack Kerouac openly tried to use his understanding of jazz improvisation as a defining template for his own written improv and tempo. 

 Two robins do not make a Spring, nor six or eight, thus no more examples of the men and women who write with some conscious or close-to-conscious awareness of music for inspiration because the point is not in the number of examples which may be sited but rather the actual similarity inherent in these media.

To get his or her work beyond the stage of imitative and philosophical reverence for individuals who are writers, the emerging writer will profit from seeing the discipline in terms of yet another discipline, say astronomy or quantum physics, but also in potential relationships with astrology, mythology, and Jungian psychology. Or baseball.

To those writers familiar with the theories of circularity of events as expressed by Giambattista Vico (1668-1744), the structure of James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake, not the least of which being the opening and closing lines, will come as no surprise. Nor will the seemingly effortless understanding of seamanship surprise readers of Joseph Conrad nor the comprehensive understanding of bullfighting to readers of Barnaby Conrad.

Does this infer the need for a writer to have a hobby or avocation or other compelling interest? Yes, although there is more to be done. Whatever the "other" interest or discipline, the writer needs to exercise extreme caution against installing reader feeder into the work at hand merely for the sake of using the gleaned material. 

 The linkage awaits, in as much relative importance as the understanding of characters and their goals. Metaphor for its own sake is nothing more than stylistic showing off. Metaphor for enhanced understanding and for articulating the lines of linkage is another matter altogether; it is the matter of the story or tale that once told begins a reverberation that has a half life of centuries.

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