Saturday, August 21, 2010

Formula for Safety

When it is working, you scarcely notice anything but a sense of smooth inevitability that takes you into an awareness well beyond thought.  The "it" is, of course, the conveyance known as story, involving, mysterious, primal.

When it is not working, you become aware of and fret about the fact of it being a rail bed of a narrow-gauge train, the dips and upthrusts of grade numerous and sudden.  The turns are not always banked with any subtlety or with attention to comfort.  Sometimes a cow or frightened deer panics, frozen on the tracks.

Sometimes it is altogether less like riding a train and more like being a flea a big dog is trying to shake from his back.  The more you think about it, try to make repairs, add mechanics of smoothness, the more the metaphor grows to the extent of you trying to give a large dog a bath in a small tub.  Both of you get wet.  Neither of you wishes to be wet.  Neither of you, in fact, wishes to be where you are, doing what you are doing.

At such times there are few certainties, one of them being that the metaphors for what you are attempting to do and are in fact not doing become more monstrous and disorienting.  If you have been in such situations often enough, you will recognize the feelings of uneasiness and dread spreading through your awareness.  If you persist, the worst that can happen is the result of some flat, stilted pages in which you attempt to explain too much, perhaps noting as you read these pages that you are explaining to yourself.  Also, if you persist, the feelings of dread and disorientation will begin to slide away and you will have ridden through the poorly banked turns and precipitous drops, experiencing once again the awareness of being, pure writer being.  For reasons still not entirely clear to you, risk is almost always involved in the sense of disconnection; you need to see how effective taking some risk or unexpected turn is as a companion on these ungainly moves through the landscape of process.

Formula breeds certainty of result and safety and boredom.  Risk causes the forehead to erupt with the tingle of fear and entrance to the unknown.  Boredom produces more of itself, predictable, correct, safe, too polite to say how boring boredom truly is.

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