The Writer Talks to Himself about the Writing

5/08/2008

After rewriting the last three scenes for the fourth time.

I find myself rewriting the same three scenes over and over. I’m looking for the deep place they hook to but I can’t find it.

Scene One Is the Explanation where Mitch explains in detail to Squeaky why he has to die.
Scene Two is the Walkout where Mitch showers, bringing back memories of Cain at the Oak View School for Boys.
Scene Three is the Fat Man where Mitch finds out who the Fat Man is and why he sprang him early.

I’m looking for some connection here, something that will tell me I’m on the mythic wave. I look for sets: Squeaky and Mitch, a two character scene; Mitch alone (in the shower, Perry, the Guard walks out) evokes a deliverance scene with Cain, but also washes Mitch as he preps for the ritual crossing to the other side and his diabolic rebirth as the God of Death; Mitch and the Fat Man masks a ritual of transcendence when Mitch makes his big decision—already indexed in the scene with Geraldine in Yellow Dress—but not worked out when he tells Geraldine that he can never see her again.

Once the mythic wave goes silent, I’m lost. I can’t add anything new. I rewrite because I find nothing to add, but it’s a stall pattern—write what I know while I wait for the mythic wave to gear up again. So one part of me says ‘You already know all you can and need to know’ (a little Keats’ paraphrase), and so the story has been told.

Story, Structure, Style.

Work them in order: Write into character and story for a year, then a splash write of the Cut To Sequence that shows me I’ve written a through line with character development and plot tracks and once the story is in order, I work the scenes for depth and back story. To end with stylistic choices.

But I’m afraid to let go of this familiar story. It’s comfortable being in that place with Mitch and Squeaky and their objects. It’s safe to stay there instead of prepping for the release—is there here an index to Mitch’s early release?—and turning to the rewrite of the story and the scenes.

The problem is not to let go before it’s ready, not to close off, but to leave it open so the rewrite makes sense. Every scene can be redone, every arc recalculated, every character remapped for back story and story arc—for example, I know nothing about Martin—not even his last name and he isn’t talking to me—the mythic wave is silent. I think of Herodotus’ plea to the gods—why have you quit speaking to me? Did the rhapsodes take dictation from the Unconscious? Was the voice from the Unconscious the voice of the Gods? Has writing practice left me in that silent place with Herodotus? With the Unconscious no longer speaking to me? Maybe the issue is that my part of the Universal and Solitary Story has been told in this stretch. Maybe the Platonic Perfection hinted at in the Mythic Wave is all I get. Maybe It is. IT=The Mythic Wave telling me it’s time to move from the irrational abreactive and automatic mind into the rational numeric mind and to make choices. Maybe I don’t want to leave the place where the emotion of the mythic wave breaking free lifts me to a hormonal high that leaves my hand shaking and my voice quavering when I finish an in-depth bout of creative spilling. Maybe this is the abandonment, the cause of the silence—as if it’s enough and now I have to practice my own techniques—Discipline is my obligation to the Given.

Maybe the mythic wave (Jung’s Collective Unconscious) knows when it has run the gamut and has given all it will give for this story—maybe it, the voice in the mythic wave, is satisfied with its gift and now rests, lays back to see what I will do with its little two-hundred and seventy-five page present.

I see now that it is time to move into the Style Phase and to let the rewrite determine what needs to be added or taken away and then at that time when the holes open up, the mythic wave will direct my pen where it needs to go.

In Sum: I have to move from feeling mode to thinking mode. I don’t recall one instance in the past year when I thought about what to write—instead, I came to the table at Louisa’s Cafe with an idea of a whole thing trusting that a part of it would reveal itself to me, and this helps me understand why I have rewritten the last three scenes four times each—it is the end of the road, time to rest, time to let the left brain work on the given, time to use the numeric side of the brain.

And this is how the Cut To Sequencing technique acts as an End Stop—it takes the through time and in one feral gift from the mythic wave jerks the story into an order—a fusion of feeling and thought—but again and still driven by the Unconscious energies of the abreaction bursting across the corpus callosum, that little white highway between creation and discipline.

At the root of the gift there is the structural integrity of the scene. Without the scenic principles of Character, Dialogue and Timing, the writing betrays itself as nonsense and this evokes Brahms who said that he studied Bach’s fugues in order to discipline himself so that when he went into rhapsodic mode and took dictation the gush had a form to contain it.

So now, the fusion of the elements persists but I resist because I love the feeling of being lost in this emotional forest of time writing only to return from the abyss to find myself at a table in time while for 31 minutes I was out of time, out of space. The rhythm of creation—taking dictation from God Mind—then is loss, to wander to cherish the form as receptacle for the sea breaking out, to return to real time with the only marker of the journey being the six columns of scrawl on the yellow page—then to type it up.

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One Response to The Writer Talks to Himself about the Writing

  1. Sherry Decker says:

    While reading Blood I was aware of the rhythm, the sense of timing, the pacing. It was neither visual nor audible, but I felt it like a heartbeat, sometimes pounding and slow and sometimes racing like that of a runner sprinting toward the finish line. Scared the hell out of me – and I didn’t want Squeaky to die although I knew he would.

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