Saturday, May 3, 2014

At a Moment's Notice

Earlier this afternoon, when you were beset by a swarm of agenda flies buzzing about your afternoon, you did two things you ordinarily do.  You made a time-sensitive list of your priorities, You indulged a few moments of rebellion.

How comforting it would be for you to say the implications of these two acts provided you a dazzling moment of insight, but truth to tell, you already knew.

You've come to think of such moments of revisiting priorities as Wordsworth Moments, thanks more than anything to William Wordsworth's sonnet that begins with the memorable line:

"The World is too much with us, late and soon,"

then goes on to trump itself:

"Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;

Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn."

So your Wordsworth moments meant having more for the moment on your plate than you could expect to get done by times for class next week, and your moments of rebellion involved making a pot of coffee, then settling down to read a review by Francine Prose, whom you admire, of an author whose most recent novel you've used several times already as a text to demonstrate a convincing and compelling narrative from the point of view of a five-year-old.

Sipping coffee and reading, you as well savored your moments of rebellion, knowing there would be some negative consequences--you'd have somehow to make up for the hour or so if indulgence--and quite a few positive ones such as the energy derived from your rebellious self-affirmation.  

Translation:  You felt pressured by your to-do list, which you had the good sense to rearrange in your favor.  You allowed yourself moments of rebellion, took consequences into account.  All in all, a splendid calculus.  All in all a reminder that you as well as characters are in a timeline narrative--a set pf priorities against the background of a fuse having been lit.  Too many details and the priorities are occluded, the vector of need watered down.  Too many details and the result is anticlimax, which is another way of saying distraction from the intended effect.

You're still not sure how much of this you have learned well, or if at all. There were times in the past when you were so fond of details that they weighed down what little story you had.  In consequence, you told yourself you were a detail-oriented writer, after all, weren;t there the so-called Realist Writers, who seemed to luxuriate in detail.  You told yourself that detail was your strength.

Of course, you had once told yourself dialogue was your strength until you discovered you were working to capture conversation rather than dialogue.

On some levels, you know this much:  Story is a condition involving characters who have more on their plates than they can handle.  They are aware of the pressures and implications.  They are forced to rearrange priorities, shifting orders of tasks and responses, sometimes painfully aware of the downstream consequences.  Things continue to pile up.  One or more of the characters has, among his or her moments of accelerated awareness, a moment or two of rebellion.

How well do these things line up for you, in Reality and in Composition?

The story, as your weekend, now begins.


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