Thursday, November 25, 2010

Street Endorphins

You have noted and called out for attention in previous notes to yourself the reminder to keep at a thing until it surprises you.  This is another way of saying that a piece, whether long or short, invented or reported to the best of your ability to report, or to attitudinize until the right attitude appears, should be poked at, prodded, rearranged, or simply fussed at until it reaches some critical mass and it explodes in your face.

The explosion might well be a shattering of elements into a new format or the introduction of some detail in greater degree or even in some form of menace.  It might also be a vision where the entire sense of the piece speaks to you as if to say, won't this just bee too funny or irreverent or both for words?  For the past weeks, you've been thinking the simplest way to express this phenomena or, if you will, explosion, is to remind yourself to keep fussing and tinkering until you feel the endorphins clicking in.  All well and good, but there is a tinkering possible with that trope as well; you more often than not write yourself into a nice straight shot of endorphin under most circumstances--unless the work has gone completely off somewhere.  But even then, in retrospect, it was better to have had the bad day, triggered by the bad result, than to have had no day at all.  The endorphin released by this awareness triggers the awareness of all those years you were seeking to get by on the literary equivalent of other writers' endorphins.  Street endorphins, baby.  You don't want generic any more; you want your own brand.

Used to be, whenever you'd get to the place in classes of talking about revision, then come to the rhetorical question, How do I know when I've revised enough?  The answer you'd give was good, so far as it went.  You've finished revision, you'd say, when the only person who notices the changes you've made is you.  The answer now is, When it gets you high.

For some years, you've worked best under the weight of some deadline.  It has been helpful to turn that particular gun into a mirror which you point at yourself, which is to say your own deadlines add spice to the broth; an impatient man, your impatience for the story drives you to get into it, then by subsequent degrees, through it, then out of it.  Some of the absolute best times are when you've been taken over by the work, can't see your way out of it just yet, are fretting, reliving the scenes even as you indulge what passes for sleep.  Somewhere along the way, whether in the shower, swimming laps, scanning the shelves of the market as though those shelves had answers rather than mere products, "it" comes to you, and the next wonderful rush is translating it into words.

Used to be, you were looking for ways to describe the sensation, but "it" wasn't the sensation, "it" was the process.  Not any more, baby.  Anything less than this is too much like mere work, and you'd opted out of that a long time ago.

There were moments when you were dealing with pain as a result of surgery and it seemed to you the task was always assigned to a nurse who flat-out approached you with a discussion about pain management, the dialogue taking the arc where the nurse would tell you to look ahead of the pain arc as opposed to waiting until it caught up to you.  The analogy for you shines with clarity:  You work with the notion of building to the discovery that will lead to discovery.  Anything else is playing for safety; anything else is kiddies' aspirin for a migraine.

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