I’ve long held the opinion that human beings look for ways and people that take them from accepted routines, understandings and strictures. I saw a quote from Bruce Lee which many human beings follow: Always obey principles but never feel bound by them. Human beings willingly go far, endangering themselves and others in the exploration of life.
Where does my thinking put me today? Not very venturesome. I have a manuscript to edit. I wrote three stories in 2011 which I lumbered through. Parts of them are imaginative and engaging, but passages and some chapters are clunky. I now like rewriting and editing. Every first draft is a meager communication of the imagination, what it intended, what it could produce or what must be created off the draft. The process of fixing everything, not all at once, excites me. An advantage I have – Time has written and rewritten the book, in my mind. I now know what is important, what might be improved, and what is stupid and never should have been dropped in.
I’ve begun to edit, getting through 1500 words in the shortest novel. That’s not enough; I suspect the opening needs rewriting. The words do not impel the reader into the story, and I also added a theme which will carry through the novel. No one can drop in a second draft references to a running theme throughout the entire manuscript.The best I can do is make each paragraph and each chapter as cogent, comprehensible and complete as it can be. In the third draft I can attach the chapters to one another. Two more drafts aren’t onerous, just careful.
Of course that level of detail and concern varies greatly from the great sweep of mind a writer must when dreaming and driving a writing along a new story. My last effort to devise, dream and drive was so arduous and fitful that: I didn’t want to – I want to – I didn’t want to – do it again. In essence I’m conflicted, disorganized and unsettled. I know how to calm myself: Read, read very good books, read stuff that carries me along.
Almost every book I buy now comes from library book sales. The History of Dogma, Vol 1-7, by Harnick is heavy lumber. Early Christianity, Vol 1- 4, ditto. Each meets the review of Pilgrim’s Progress appearing in Huckleberry Finn. “About a man who left home; it didn’t say why. Statements in it were interesting but tough.”
It’s good to read books that give new information, new pleasures and new exposures. I found one, The West of the Imagination, William N & H Goetzman (father & son). How do Americans perceive the West? How did the new country perceive the West? Will we be stuck with “When the legend becomes the fact, print the legend,” from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. The book tells of exploration and painters production of art as they traveled through the West. So far I’m surprised to learn that Native Americans liked to have their portraits painted.
Whatever I may gain from reading, and until now, everything that amused me was a means to prepare myself to write. None of the reading was research; it was background, sensing what is good and bad. Military histories usually have a quick pace; it is the subject matter. Novelists have to write well. I may read as many as 50 books, and at the end I exhaust myself – I want to read no more: Garbage in. Time for Garbage out. Many fewer words go out than come in.
I mentioned library book sales. I’ve been lucky. Early Christianity volumes in excellent condition was $5.50. A biography of Theodore Roosevelt by Carleton Putnam was $.15. Carleton from New York got his BVDs in a twist in the last 1950s, and publicly he came out against integration. No more Roosevelt volumes, but he wrote an inconsequential book about race, the nineteenth century sort of thing that relied on antidotal evidence but no studies and no research. George Washington as the French Knew Him, Chinard, also cost $.15. I’m hardly prosperous by these purchases, but I beat the world of bar codes and scanners.
None of this instantly changes my state of mind to allow me to write an original story. I have to sit and wonder at the world passing me by – current events, other artists with energy producing and my own inertia. I’ll have to wait. I can not write everyday because I don’t do [platform] [serial] [genre] fiction. So now I’ll write nothing big, but every so often I’ll write and post something like this.