Sunday, May 13, 2012


A favored route of investigation for you is the discovery of some near polar tug yanking its way within you.  For most of the day the tug has been between the focus and discovery of what you will produce here and your continued reading of the short, wonderful Julian Barnes novel, The Sense of an Ending.

Much of the day was spent in the near perfection of writing additional material for the revision of your about-to-be-reprinted and, in the bargain, renamed The Fiction Lovers’ Companion.  You’d already seen a few puzzled frowns at book fairs and signings.  The title did not give a clear message.  The new publisher was quite emphatic.  The Fiction Writer’s Handbook.  What, indeed, is in a name?

Occasional moments of moving away from the computer to read in the Barnes, and the occasional thought about what would come here.  The goal, since this blog site was established was to ensure a daily stint, making some writing each day muscle memory rather than chore or duty.  (You’d come up with previous plans to deal with that contingency, plans such as working on your weekly review or transcribing notes, or beginning a new story.  All of these seemed to have worked, leaving this part of the workday even purer amusement.)

Even pure amusement can become a habit, however.  This site must also be attended each day.  To take a day off is to invite one of the things you have written about on many an occasion—consequences.

The consequences of not spending time here are all subjective, all weight bearing on your sensitivity, but of course of concern to anyone else.  If you do not improvise or rant or play here, the consequences will be unknowable until tomorrow, when you need to get something done or when you sit to compose something you’ve already begun thinking about.

The risk is that tomorrow might come before your improvising self arrives, and a book, such as the one by Barnes, can make the matter even more difficult to settle because his narrative voice on this one has you by the collar and any grip you might have had on your own narrative voice will have become a day looser.

How long has it been since you have come to realize how important for story to have at least two textures, a) the main thread, played out against b) some event or condition or circumstance?  Sounds the essence of simplicity, doesn’t it, but your memory of your earlier work is a memory haunted by episodic strands of events, of the equivalents of “and then they…”

This sensibility has bled into your daily life to the point where you can remember times of being stunned by the discovery of the relative lateness of the hour, say 11:15, and the need to stop whatever it was you were working on to get something yanked out of thin air and organized for an improvisation before midnight and the start of another day.  You are hoping this does not smack of superstition to you when you come back to read it at some future time.  No problem if it sounds compulsive or even plain weird so long as it does not sound a superstition.

Thus this is written against the background of adding revised pages to the book, which is done against the tension of student papers, which is being done against the tension of reading the Julian Barnes and already coming up with the handle on the review you will write of it.  And all of this is against the tension of The Dramatic Genome, which has taken on in addition to the personality it had begun to evolve, a sense of tribute to your great chum Digby Wolfe, with whom it was born over one romp of a linguini with clam sauce luncheon at Via Maestra.

There is always something to say when the texture of tension is present, nudging you, teasing you, wondering in your ear what the bloody hell is keeping you.

Keeping you from what?

Why, the next thing, of course.

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