Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thrilled to Meet You

There is nothing like it, no worth using.  By its unique nature, it is not something than can be bottled or rendered into formula.  Nor is it arrived at easily or without potential for pain.

You have to be honest with yourself; you cannot hold anything in reserve, no fall back, no plan B--nothing you have conveniently forgotten about until the moment arrives.

Such is its nature that it can appear at any time.  You can be at a beginning, or swimming along toward the middle with the shore line in sight, perhaps a bit of a concern because of the distance, but nevertheless a tangible shoreline.  Sometimes,   it may appear at the end game.

The notes you may have written when the idea first visited you have  all been covered.  You are not much for outlines in any case, and so there you are, alone, no shoreline insight.  You take the same precautions now that you apply when something seems not to respond between your keyboard, your computer, and the printer, especially back when you were using goddamned HP printers.  You look to see if the plug has come loose in such cases; here, you move to the beginning and reintroduce yourself into what you have written, hoping the addition or removal of a word or two will help.  You listen to the voice of the story and of the characters.

There is nothing.  Now the shoreline seems to have disappeared.  How had you managed to come this far without securing some notion of how you might return? Then comes the fear that you might have played it out with the thing--whatever it was--before this one.  You pride yourself on reworking until the piece, whatever it is, offers up some surprise, some thing you hadn't realized before.  So yes, you do write with some hope the universe will reveal a portion of itself to you, let you in on some secret seemingly known and taken for granted by everyone else around you.  And if the universe will not be forthcoming, then perhaps some scintilla of awareness about the human condition because you are haunted by Chekhov's vision that there is no explanation, no understanding.

This all makes sense to the point where you know the writer has to stay out of the way of the story, butt out and allow the characters to carry forth the arguments, grudges, urges, passions, and deepest fantasies.  But you no longer write for sense; you write to see the animals standing just beyond the surface of the rocks, looking for an escape hatch.  You write for the thrill of being out there, lost.  All your navigational tricks have been used up.  You have no compass nor knowledge of the night skies.

This is the excruciating moment in which you reach within, sometimes in despair, for something, anything to get you through.  When the something comes, you feel faint relief because the fact of the something arriving, making connection with you, is no guarantee the result will be worthwhile, much less usable.  It may work and you may feel the tingle of it.  It may not work,and you may well feel the leaden coldness of its heaviness.  But that moment, where there is no certainty that what arrives after you have emptied yourself to it will be of any value to you, is the most remarkable and sought-after moment of them all.  This is the moment that affirms what you do.  This affirmation is all you can have.  In many ways, you understand this, but not in enough ways.  Not yet.

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