Thursday, November 17, 2011

When There Is Nothing Left

Depending on the time of day and the work schedule at hand, there is always something new to begin, whether it is a matter of these vagrant blog lines or some new review or a new chapter or--in the realm of possibility--a story.

No matter what the project is (or the projects are), the important thing is to hold nothing back, to keep nothing in reserve, to spend it all.  Either that or work until your eyes grow heavy and you find yourself debating between the polarity of a nap or coffee.

There is a counterpoint of tingle accompanying this strategy, the heady energy of confidence in the return of new material in time for the next session.  You have no idea where the new associations and enthusiasm will emerge or where they will come from.  You do know that your best chance is to stay engaged, in some semblance of a conversation with a part of the world about you, manifest in the stream of literary and political journals arriving in the mail and some of the more reasoned, less hysterical news sources associated with blog sites as opposed to those of cable television and never from network television or newspapers.

If you are of a particularly critical frame of mind in which nothing seems to be emerging as fresh material, there is always the chance that some notes or observations in a number of venues will provide some help, even to the point where you have already begun a cohesive stream of observation.

There is a fear lurking in the background that nothing may connect for you, at which point the dial will register empty.  You will sit then, staring at the empty marker, feeling your thoughts squeeze like a boa about its prey, forestalling any connection with ideas and opening vector.  Often the fear of this painful squeeze-down will prompt a few drips of idea followed by a few more until, at length, a fuller stream has emerged and you are no longer running on empty.

These signs remind you from time to time of the ambiance of the surroundings in which you work, the working conditions themselves, which are poor relative to other work areas you have known but nevertheless more preferable by far than any others.  Some times you sit, waiting for the material to arrive, not at all sure from whence it is sent much less where it will be delivered if, indeed, delivery is all that certain.  On other occasions, it arrives as though from some spending binge you indulged earlier, delivering copious notes which seem ample and in extensive enough detail to maintain your interest and direction for some time to come.  When the appropriate time for their use arrives, you find they are not useful, their details indecipherable, your potential opportunity for having ready material for yet other days gone in a poof of logic.

Looks may deceive; some days, when work seems to have produced plausible and powerful interactions and contrast, the rate of keepable pages may sag.  Other days, when work is slow and contentious, an incredible number of keepable pages may earn their keep.

Ultimately tired of low-level days, you step forth with questions.  How much harder could your characters have tried?  How much more trouble could they have caused?  What stands in their way?  Which nurses secret agenda?  How much more could you have done to effect direction?

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