The Theory of Chaos

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Because I have to remind myself it's not my actual job to review movies for y'all

I'm working on a short story that scares the giblets out of me. It involves no safety net. It is not funny, not satirical, it has no zombies or robots or hot sex or violence, and it desires to be taken seriously. The language desires to be beautiful. I think I'm pretty good at this whole scratching-on-stone-tablets thing, but to be honest, most of the time I'm noodling, and I'm very aware of it. That may be enough to get me through some daily snark or a jokey script, but it will not suffice for this.

That makes progress much slower and more frustrating, at first. I know how many words I CAN produce at a sitting, and by that simple math I could have this story by dinner tomorrow. I won't. Every sentence must be deliberate, specific, useful, and (hopefully) a little lovely. That's a far different process than what I'm usually doing here, just beating the keys to try and keep up with the whizzing around in my brain.

But what helps is that I can see how it is good for me; to be slow, and measured, to apply real consciousness to each sentence as a unit before I type. Once that notion has broken through the manic static, it soothes, even strengthens. It is writing-while-awake. It is also writing-with-everything-you've-got, and I bet that's what really frightens. Once I unveil that, what about my capabilities is mysterious?

What's most frightening - I sense a chance that this story could be good. I just have to not let it down.


  • I am reminded of a Q&A with Andrew Bergman at an "In-Laws" screening I went to some years back. Bergman said he just thought of the actors he had in mind(Falk, Arkin) and just followed wherever his mind would take himt But, if some fellows did not measure and consider their words, "Hamlet" would end up in a Stratford dustbin, a discarded scrawl on a cocktail napkin. "To be or not be(soup stain)."

    By Anonymous Mike De Luca, at 8:48 AM  

  • I do hope that fully-applying myself actually pays some dividend. Because if the tap-dancing I usually get up to is actually the terminal ceiling of my abilities, it portends a frustrating life.

    By Blogger Nick, at 11:59 AM  

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