Monthly Archives: September 2013

Deep breath

I think my creative retreat is deeper than I first acknowledged. For professional reasons I want to leap into writing short pieces but I am far from leaping. A novel is a great mecha suit, immense powers but within strict rules. Wearing it so long has left a host of implants and fixators that need to work themselves out of my creative body.
I need to figure out where I am. I have an attraction for things macabre, things out of joint, and even archaic language and rhythms. Not that I want to write pastiche, but perhaps some fantastic tales in a place with a passion for elegance over speed. I think I am not alone in wanting to find such a terrain, neither as artist nor as audience. But maybe it will only be found blindly.
I have already made the mistake of starting too soon. I dove into writing days after leaving my technical career, which made my new job less a reward than a demotion to something far less glamorous and energetic. I should have taken a long car trip but instead I sat in my basement and withered. I have the same feeling now. Continue reading

Meandering Progress Report Sep 2013

As I wrote a novel with a corporate setting, florid language became dead weight. I needed to make a corporate motif, a slickness half jet-age half cyberpunk.
It took many drafts to make that happen since it was a big story. I resolved not to write like film or for film, but to edit my work into efficiency. Like compression in computing, to convey the richest illusion in the least time without being too lossy.
In the last two years I have taken almost 40% off the first draft manuscript. I may not be good but I am trying hard. One day I will learn to say less from the start.
I am starting to feel done with the manuscript. Continue reading

Better writing through selfishness

Some years ago I attended a conference at Woolly Mammoth Theater in Washington DC on art and democracy. Along with the artists and patrons and at least one historian, many who came were national and local activists for marginalized communities invisible to national culture. They made impassioned pleas for the assembled artists to take the time to bring them and their needs into the spotlight.
I wasn’t kind to the idea. Its fine for people outside to express concern, to channel aid, but artists can’t be anyone’s mouthpieces. Culture requires imagination. It demands oblique correlatives, odd connections, and fantasy, a voice not determined by big-picture grandees but the kind of misfits who stay up all night sweating the details.
I’m not saying writers should be divorced from their societies but they should not try to confuse their role as entertainers and provokers of thought with measurable social value. Continue reading