Friday, July 16, 2010

Letters to a Young, Middle-Aged, or Geezer Writer, XII

Another of the truths universally recognized is the fact of writers being control freaks, so it will come as no surprise to you when I bring up the subject of accommodation.  If you strive to induce the life about you to conform to your vision, you'll have had the need to ransack your tool kit for that very tool, because you'll have been brought to the unspoken need to accommodate somewhere along the way.

In the process of getting sufficient hold of an idea to bring it wriggling onto the page or screen like some enormous trout, filched from a deep pond, you watch in etched regret as it loses a modicum of its glorious color.  But you are so grateful to have landed it in the first place that you allow the process of accommodation to begin, increasing to the point where eventually you have made more concessions and adjustments than you can keep of.

It was always thus, but you were so set on landing that metaphoric trout that you could not admit that grand as the idea or vision is, you lose bits of it as the days of landing it on the page progress, and you already know of yourself how poor a loser you are; you bear down instead, trying to get it.  Such as well is your nature that as the idea begins to assume the form you can bring to it, the energy to do so continues and you properly consider yourself inspired, in the pursuit if not the thrall of the chase.

The story is truly in the details, those tiny flecks of truth inherent in your observations.  The more of these impressions you can recall, the greater the presence of reality your version of this invented reality will have.  Of course you want your characters to respond with activities that advance the story to the point of combustion while still retaining that truth or plausibility of direction; they are doing what they do not so much because you are directing them but because they represent the course of action that will define them as they relate to the story.  You pave purposely chosen characters with the belief that you could control them, seeing how difficult it is for you to control things in reality as you would wish.  But these characters you have created with expectations of being Dr. Frankenstein to their monster are anarchists; they turn on you, demand the freedom to make their own mistakes.

As time in the writing world progresses, you become more devious, providing your stories with characters you can manipulate through guilt or guile or sheer bluff and braggadocio.  But so do they.  You can do what so many elders do, you can disown them, but that is an act of futility.  The real way to get the job done, to get the most of your vision transcribed from the big-bang moment of creation to the placement of them in a scene in a story is to accommodate and the way to do that is to recognize how, even though you created them, you cannot control them.  But you can watch them and admire them and above all else, respect them.

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