Friday, November 18, 2011

It was the best of books, the worst of books

Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is find, then read a book remarkable for its awfulness. Thus in one sentence have you managed a stream of intangibles and imprecision’s, and vagaries. Best = optimal thing you can do at a precise moment for the sake of your craft as instrument.  The precise moment relates to a time segment you entered in a less than engaged condition; you might even call it a bored condition.  There are books strewn about, pretty much wherever you go, so finding one is not a problem.  There are wide potentials for types of books, including the genera such as mystery, alternate universe, thriller, romance, historical, science fiction, and the like.

Tastes vary; yours is neither the worst nor the best informed, nor does it represent a middle view.  You are drawn to writers who, by the reading of their books, you are motivated to put in a day’s work writing.  You may find the book poorly written for a number of reasons including your old foe, the adverb, but not to forget clunky sentences, spending too much time in a character’s thoughts, a cadre of characters who sound quite the same, and, when they don’t sound the same, sound dreadful.

The lucid, thematically accessible, cliché-free narrative with interesting characters, which is to say purposeful and inventive sorts who wish to effect some kind of change inspires you to take chances while putting story or essay out there where it is sure to be seen.

Thus reading becomes fuel, a splendid supplement for those days you so favor where no ending is in sight, where the simple awareness of your modest craft is all you have and in the bargain, it is nothing unless you have vowed to extend it by any means possible.

Sometimes you can go for days at a time without being reminded of these years when you predicate your income and your output on the basis of a fifty-to-sixty-thousand word novel a month, for which you got advances ranging from fifteen hundred to twenty-five hundred dollars a month, not bad for the time, and if a particular work earned off its advance and the publisher were reputable enough to take a personal interest in its authors being paid in full, you could take some time to make the next a bit more thoughtful.

You would not have to—as you needed to do with Deadly Dolly, set fire to an enormous warehouse wherein the conflagration ate away the more rational and evocative memes while the characters fled from Dodge (and logic and believability) while the fleeing was good.  There were times when you were surprised at the degree of cover-up devices you included with sincere belief that the devices were valid story.  Doing something of that nature for so long, there had to be results. After a time you could no longer write a book a month—perhaps the single best technique thing ever to happen to you.  Under the circumstances, you learned to do first draft without recourse to either outline or thought.

The door swung wide open and you met face to face that stunning force known as revision.

At first, you saw revision as the enemy the anti-spontaneous presence in the process.  Your own rambunctiousness demanded a freer approach, which must, you tried to reason, be out there somewhere.  It is, of course, never “out there” it is “in here.”  And after you realized that, located it, then began to apply the techniques, you were on your way.

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