Monday, February 4, 2013

Captain Spaulding and the Writing Process

By most accounts, a process is a series of actions which were arrived at through trial and error or some previous design, with the intent of providing a desired result.

The process by which you are able to produce one or more keepable pages of text has undergone an evolutionary process from your early days of trying to produce keepable pages right up until the present moment where this page (presumably to be judged worth keeping) will have morphed.

Call it an irony in the making, if you wish, or be content to think of it as mere naivete; the fact nevertheless remains that while you were in those early days trying to produce keepable page, you had no thought of it being any part of any process; in your naivete, you were much in the moment, also a condition you did not assign much thought (because you were too busy being in the moment).

If the evolution is in fact an irony, you have now evolved to the state of trying to find a moment and achieve a kind of unity with it in pursuit of the goal of keepable pages.

In many ways, the tern "keepable pages" is an abstraction, thus part of your process is the ongoing attempt to particularize the abstraction to the point where, as near as you can bring it, the keepable page is a tight replica of the unity and partnership between you and the subject.  The sophistry here comes from the entire process originating within you and your increasing efforts to delegate authority to the characters if the work you have undertaken is dramatic or ideas if the work is a narrative such as a review or essay.

The work, whether fiction or non, is you, reflecting the evolutionary journey you've undertaken, while at the same time earning its "keepability" by reflecting the energy and personality of the characters or ideas.

When you are pursuing process now, almost as though you were some guide out on a safari or hunt, and find your way into unity with the characters and/or ideas, you experience an inner ripple beyond any sense of joy or of dogs riding in a moving car, with their head out the window. Instead, you give the inner ripple of feeling the name of glee, a sense of connection with your early self and its wild, unarticulated visions and goals.

In more sober moments, you refer to such feelings as having found your voice, although dwelling on that trope often brings you to admit you'd not thought your voice was lost--you simply hadn't learned to pay it the heed you now pay it.  You are more likely now to have lost your voice than you were before you were aware of having one or in those early days when your literary voice reminded you of the sound of your physical voice while you were going through a process called puberty.

Not long ago, you came across a photo of Julius Henry Marx, studious in his regard for a book he was apparently reading.  The photo caused reflections and self-examinations of the sorts visited in the previous paragraphs.  Seriousness and studiousness were the end results of the process you set in motion, seemingly without design, only with regard for the outcome.  The real process, the voice that wished to be heeded was more of a creation of Julius Henry Marx, Captain Geoffrey Spaulding.

Captain Spaulding is the analog of the Trickster.  He represents to you what his creator represents.  He is Julius Henry Marx having gone through the process of becoming Groucho Marx to the completed image of a take-down of all pretension and high-faluting status.  He is at once the great Enforcer and the Leveler.

Even more than Groucho, Captain Spaulding is your Super Hero.  With him and Mark Twain as your guides, your mentors, you have walked the twisty trails and improvised alleys of your process, your dark moments and frequent battles with your craft made a bearable mischief by the awareness that in your imagination, they walk with you.

Process is a willingness to walk in the darkness with nothing but a stub or two of candle, imaginary companions, and a decent pen for taking notes as you feel your way along.

No comments: