Saturday, July 28, 2012

Lost: Frightened Young Story. Substantial Reward for Recovery

Of all the things you are likely to misplace, your key ring or cell phone cause you the most vexation through their absence.   A good candidate for the third most pestering absence is a recent acquisition, a black Sailor fountain pen.  Other probabilities for misplacement present themselves.  To your credit, you are quick to take up these probabilities.

The key ring contains the means of starting your car.  Without it, you’re more or less stuck wherever you are, although you do have a spare key hidden on board as insurance against being stranded.  The cell phone, to your mounting displeasure, has become a force of commanding importance to the point where you resent the feeling of being helpless should you leave home without it, then find yourself beyond the point of no return, where it is inconvenient to return for a 2 ¼ x 4 ½ rectangle.

You are rarely without some writing instrument, often carrying three or four.  But somehow the glide of the Sailor nib over most paper surfaces has become so satisfying, so sensual that its absence produces a longing a mere ballpoint pen cannot soothe, and the small, pocket-sized German Kaweco barely mitigates.

When all three go missing at the same time, the frustration enhances in logarithmic progression, a feeling that reminds you of the sense of loss and displacement when story goes missing in a narrative you’re working on.  Whether fiction or nonfiction, there is, you believe with ardent certainty, a need for the sense of purpose and direction you associate with the narrative recipe you’ve come to associate with story.

Without this presence, the narrative seems to have lost at least one dimension, perhaps even more.  Some vital sense of personality or voice or edge or a combination seem woefully absent.  You set out like a hardscrabble miner, prospecting, looking for a trace of something that, to his best experience and information, should be present somewhere in the vicinity.

Like the miner, you’ve prospected on, sometimes for days on end, pursuing whim, potential clues, and informed observation, digging, sifting, working to keep at bay the mounting sense of boring sorting through the landscape in search of clues that the sought after ore is indeed present and at close hand.  You trace your steps to the characters, wondering what it is in their personality or dreams that will produce a sense of elements that may coalesce into story that you may stake claim to.

The past successes of other prospectors serve as inspiration for the prospector evoked here for this example.  Whether a university trained geologist or an individual who was apprenticed or simply hung out with a dedicated prospector who was said to “have the gift,” our character starts off with a better statistical chance because of his or her training.
The past successes of other writers swept years from your life by causing you to believe writing was easy, that your attempts would eventually pay off, and that there were well-graded roads leading to a comfortable career as a storyteller.

Such thoughts run through your mind while you search your paragraphs with the cold, suspicious eye of a writer who has misplaced his story.  You do understand that something is wrong, but you are not always well able to see the place.  This is not because of anything you’ve done that is intrinsically wrong, rather because there are things awaiting your attention that need to be done in order to have completed the story.

On your evening stroll tonight, there was a sign mounted on a utility pole on Anapamu Street, between Santa Barbara Street and the next westerly parallel, Garden Street, showing a photo of a lost cat and offering a substantial reward and a warning that the cat is not social, frightens easily.  This area, more or less the scant outskirts of the civic hub, is not a likely venue for coyotes, making the chances for the ultimate recovery of this missing cat a statistical probability.

You were thinking of putting up a sign of your own, announcing a lost story, offering a reward for recovery.  You’d not be making fun of the frantic owner of the lost cat; you’d in fact be joining him or her in solidarity.

Misplaced things, whether cell phones, cats, or stories, remind us of the transitory nature of any possession, including that vaunted one of self-possession, which is held forth as some role model of mature behavior.
You have in your time misplaced self-possession and mature behavior as well as story, a cat named Sam, a key ring, and a story.  Your chances of misplacing any or all these are limited only by the fact of you not currently have a cat in your life, although you’d been thinking, even to the point of having a name for it.  This would involve a complex negotiation with Sally.  And the cosmos.

No comments: