Saturday, December 15, 2012

Whoops, sorry. Accident.

In the course of the past few weeks, you've been--not sure whether to use the verb confronted or consulted here, and cannot think of a suitable in-between--approached by two individuals for advice on how to embark on a career like yours.

This has some disturbing aspects to be thought through, and think them through, you have, arriving at a point where you have bent and shaped your evolution into the might-have-beens, then come to the conclusion of having no regrets with the possible exception of wishing you'd started a bit sooner.

These challenges or consultations or confrontations continue to relate in some ways to the development of characters for use in story, which also affords you the amusement of having to do as well with the development of your own character.  There are times, such as a recent one with a client, where you were irritated to the point of boiling anger at the difference of opinion between you and the individual, a point where you wondered how you'd come to take this person on in spite of the previous warning signs.  Even at the boil of anger, you saw yourself being considerate and helpful without betraying any of your own irritation at self for getting yourself into these circumstances.

So there you were, being asked by a father how to position his daughter as you positioned yourself, "career-wise," as the father said, and then, in a separate consultation, beginning with questions about the pros and cons of graduate school, a request for a series of guidelines and road maps leading to "a life of writing, reading, and publishing such as the one you have."

There you were, under the spotlight of inquiry, reminding you of a favored television series of yours, some years back, set in motion by the producer David Simon, who had moved from Homicide:  Life on the Streets to more or less the same Baltimore neighborhoods in The Wire.  You saw yourself as a suspect in the interview room, being interrogated by Detective Frank Pembelton, as portrayed by the splendid actor, Andre Braugher, working you, "explaining" your own motivations to you, and leading you to the understanding that more than anything else, you now wished to confess.

And so, you confess.

"Accident,"  you said.

Both times.

You are where you are--and not in other places or circumstances--by accident.  To be sure, there was deliberation, some intense times of preparation, other times of absolute clutching at straws or trying to fit yourself into various roles in various dramas for which you had not thought to audition.  There was the time you were fired from a publishing company for not wishing to become president of the company.  There were all the times you were promoted to editor in chief when you were wishing instead to remain as editor, with enough time for your own writing.  There was the time when, after a lunch you realized was orchestrated to get you drinking beyond your safe limit of prudence, you were ushered into an office in one of the tower-like buildings in Century City, introduced to a man named Victor, then left alone with him, whereupon he offered you the editorial directorship of a New York-bound company.  There was the time, a year later, when you were striding down Third Avenue in New York, only to hear your voice being called.  Turning, you recognized Victor, who said, "Look, you've come this far.  There's still time to take the job."

Accident is a series of things that happened to you and to your characters that influence who and what you are at a given moment.  Accident is the lathe on which you and they are set into a spin to which the tool of Reality is applied to effect designs, shapes, and scars.

Accident is the discovery that you were right when all evidence pointed to the contrary or wrong when the same standards of reversal obtains; it is the moment you were motivated beyond one- or two-drink at lunch prudence to do what you truly wished or say what you truly felt.

Sometimes when you are writing dialogue, you recognize the potential for accident, the sweet, mischievous inevitability of saying something you knew you should not, thus allowing it to become an accidental lapse of discretion.

Accident is a lunch between you as the guest of a publisher, both of you agreeing with a cavalier wave of the hand to a waitress that a third bottle of wine is called for as the publisher begins drawing an organizational chart on the back of a cocktail napkin.  Thus with the information of this and previous paragraphs, you demonstrate the less-than-accidental presence of wine at lunch.  Thus you see the publisher at this luncheon printing in your name at the editor in chief strata, just below his at the publisher layer.  Thus the accident of you making quick mental adjustments in reckoning the joys and frustrations of this arrangement, and thus the accident of your saying, "No, fuck no."

Accident is the awareness of you at five or six of an evening, realizing you have a dinner appointment and have neither bathed nor shaved, instead spending the greater part of the day here at the computer or off at a coffee shop with your laptop, after putting in five or six hours on a project that will still require, by any reckoning at all, at least another thousand hours.  And yet, such a day, such an unshaven, unbathed as yet day, has a luminous glow of satisfaction only you can see because it is all inner.

Accident is also the effects such days have on you that cause some who see you to see you as they wish to see you, causing you to become an accidental player in their drama, working some alchemy by which you are not only offered the role, you rise to meet it.

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