Wednesday, March 7, 2007

A Few of my Favourite Things

59,000 words (some of them torn out by the roots)

The paradox of this stage: the word count's high and mounting, but every new word makes me realize another five or six will have to come out somewhere earlier.

Last week I hit (and am still working through) a short but nasty little block. I got my 'missing scene' written, then stared at the screen for a day. I broke out pen and paper, because sometimes changing the physical act of writing helps the story flow. No dice.

In the end, what got me through was a sense of retrenching, of asking myself what my work's really about. What sets me on fire and shows up in my work again and again?

The pain of the young: So many of the world's small evils track back to the messed-up stuff that happens to kids. Child abuse, child neglect, addiction and plain old bad parenting all create adults with scar tissue on their souls. Some medicate their pain (and create a multibillion dollar industry of fear and violence and greed and betrayal). Some use the cops and the courts as replacement parents, fucking up and being disciplined for it over and over. Some lose their own pain in that of their victims.

The predators: Not just the small-potatoes, one-victim-at-a-time predators working the bus terminals and cruising around in vans and so on. I'm talking about the *really* nasty motherfuckers, the ones in five thousand dollar suits and mahogany board rooms. They live in a moral freefall defined only by their own rapacious greed, and the rest of us pay.

Humanity's endless capacity to fuck up: I've seen a lot of people take 'geographic cures': someplace warmer, someplace nicer, someplace where every dealer in town doesn't already know their name. Mostly, it only spreads *their* mess to another place. We take our darkness with us, and usually recreate it.

And last....

Hope.

Every minute of every day, every damn one of us wakes up with a choice. And new choices are right there the whole time we're awake. Mostly we use that endless, wonderful choice to do what we know and what we're used to, however painful. It's easier. But we don't have to. All over the world, every minute, somebody somewhere's turned a corner. They chose a new option, and their lives will change on the back of it.

I guess at the end of the day my work is about the struggle between light and dark in every human heart.

And that little essay above is why I let my characters do the talking and acting instead of trying for a career as an essayist. Once I reconnected with those themes and struggles, my characters started doing their part again, and the book began to move on greased rails!

3 comments:

spoon said...

This was brilliantly written!

etain_lavena said...

this was so well said.
I am trading my everyday boredom for new exitement....and what I say is I am swapping old shit for new shit......it will get my juices flowing.....this made me think....:)

Charles Gramlich said...

"We take our darkness with us..." is a great line, largely because it's true. Good piece. Good food for thought.