Monday, September 24, 2012

Confrontational


For as long as you can recall such things, you’ve had problems with conflict.  This has embedded irony.  Your personal life was filled with conflict on numerous levels, but you could not see how to distill those dynamics into story.  As a result, your stories often tended to be reflective or whimsical rather than confrontational.

Conflict boils down to confrontation.  Perhaps you began to get the dynamic through the process of writing enough reflective and/or whimsical narratives to become frustrated when the results didn’t please you.  Perhaps it was something altogether different to the point where you were yourself becoming more confrontational and more aware of the consequences.

Perhaps your evolving sense of dialogue being something more substantial than conversation played a part in the calculus.  Perhaps it was the years as junior-level editor, where you were filtering materials on a par with or worse than your own from the editorial meeting where publication was decided. 

Unless there is some variety of confrontation taking place, either in actuality or in the minds of one or more of the characters, story begins packing its bags for a long vacation.  Not only that but episode becomes the squatter, the problematic tenant who refuses to leave, who has sophisticated ploys and gambits for resisting any notice to vacate the premises.

This real estate nomenclature is apt; story is about occupancy.  Although the term “premises” becomes a play on words, it is appropriate play.  A story begins with a premise that needs development, which is to say there should be an accelerated spiral downward into some morass from which extrication appears impossible.

As you are writing such complication, such story spirals, you are inventing from whole cloth on one level, the level of invention, but you are also using your own emotional store of experiences where you felt despair or helplessness or the salty tang of acute frustration that, just once, the world of Reality did not look at your suggestion.  When you were collecting your obligatory portfolio of rejection slips, you had no way of knowing you were also making a folder of the times you’d been rejected as it were by Reality.

Thank you for letting us see your agenda.  Unfortunately, your suggestions for Reality do not meet our needs.  Do to the enormous number of agendas received daily; we are unable to offer individual commentary.  We wish you the best of fortune with your plans and hope you’re able to implement them elsewhere—but not here; not in Reality.

Now that you think about it, you’ve put considerable effort into constructing long, elaborate plans for implementing your own version of Reality.  The times, coincidental as they might have been, when your plans actually dovetailed to some degree with Reality, you let your guard down to the place where you began to suspect you understood the way the world and people and some animals worked.  Lots of luck.

Not all confrontation has to be acrimonious.  You’ve shaken hands with Reality any number of times.  No hard feelings.  Run the fucking universe as you see fit.  I get the picture.  No need to explain.

Being who you are, you’ve honed some skills, perhaps by the mere practice and repetition process.  This leaves you in a confrontational relationship with Reality, which is healthy in the same way as practice and exercise are healthy:  they keep you limber and active.

If you were to become compliant, accepting, you would doubtless get by at a different level than the one you occupy now.  You’d be a shadowy individual at the outermost edge of things, able to take notes from the sidelines, the shadows.

But you are no such person.  Through the rejection slips you’ve received from Reality and publishers and some individuals, you are out of the shadows, vulnerable to the tsunami of Reality.  In a real sense, you have placed yourself in story so that you may on occasion work your way inside a story, inside a performance or a conviction or agenda to the point where you are it and it is you, where it sounds like you and you sound like it.

Confrontational and happy to be so.

You got a problem with that?  

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