Saturday, February 3, 2007

purpose of declaration

Seeing as how the purpose of a blog is to declare, after all. I am Robin Morrison, sometimes known as Bob Morrison. Soon, google will know this. After that, perhaps you may too.

A story of a man, neither sane nor insane but mentally bicameral, bicuspid, bicorporal, who dreams that he is a writer and writes an author’s autobiography which, in the end, proves the dream to be true. This happens in the form of an imaginary interview of himself as a famous writer.

His nom de plume is Otto Biographe.

For not all hope is misguided speculatory ambition…

Otto: "For example, sir, if this were a depiction of an interview, rather than the genuine off-the-cuff affair that is, such depth of detail would of course be scattered among its own meaning. Rather than smooth articulations of ideas, with their digressions neatly enveloped in parentheses like the dining car between a string of passenger cars, there would be regular semi-reiterations -- rephrasings, catchings of mental breath, reclamations of the point not yet made by a train of thought not derailed but run in parallel to the main track -- which would be stated, if I may invoke a semblance of writerliness in spontaneous conversation, in an arhythmic syntax, a hiccupping grammar recycling itself in self-interruptions marked not by the smooth segue of a comma or deft acrobat launch from one topic to its cousin as marked by a semi-colon, but dashes and ellipses and dog-eared colloquialisms like: what I mean is, in other words, the point being, sparing you the details, and, and, um, it’s like, you see what I mean… and so on ad infinitum.

"See what I mean? It’s like, um, it’s like trying to write convincing dialogue in a story. If one tries too much to, you know, depict the conversational, spoken nature of the dialogue by using, you know, phonetically spelt dialect - dropping the ‘g’ from any number of verbal happenin’s, or using punctuation to indicate the pausing for effect or from surprise, or just to take a breath... if you do this, the very effort betrays the very effort. It is too easy for the reader to see that one is trying to write convincingly realistic dialogue.

"This can be especially true if one adds what I call ‘director’s cues’ or ‘playwright’s instructions'. You know, articulators like, “she said, breathlessly”, “he muttered, wishing he were somewhere else”, or the hopelessly obvious device of pausing between, you know, allegedly spoken words, walling both sides of the pause with quotation marks, and inserting some facial tic, or stream-of-conscious thought to oneself, or interruption by a suddenly blaring jukebox... you know. Like when, for example: "He looked askance, as if the example he sought had just been misplaced on the next table over... that sort of thing, capisch?"

INt: "yes."

Otto: "Then there’s the opposite extreme, where no such pretense is offered, and the speakers all speak the king’s good, even the king’s best English. Note how, if this were not spoken dialogue but rather written dialogue, I would have been written as saying, ‘the king’s good, even best, English’ rather than “the king’s good, or - how did I say it?”

Int: “...um...” squeals his tape recorder in a zip of smeared reverse... 'let’s see: ‘opposite extreme, where no such pretense is offered, and the speakers all speak the king’s good, even the king’s best English (note how,’…’the king’s good, even the king’s best’, you said.'

Otto: "Otto: Precisely. Spoken grammar doesn’t work like written grammar. The yarn, the fable, the tall tale -- these can generally be read aloud. But the modern novel usually requires the generous nature of a reader’s eyes, which see, for example, the quotation marks conveying special distinction. My. What a lot of hand-signs I'm making, yes? Not that your recorder can see or hear them. My point also.. They work only because you can see them, not because you can hear them, which you certainly can’t? Can you?”

Int:

Otto: "A nod is as good as a wink, you know."

Int: "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him blink?"

Otto: "Hee-hee! You know, there IS that need to have someone die, to create conflict, that too often divides ‘page-turner’ genre novels from effuse plodding belles-lettres novels exploring, ahem, the human condition. Capitalized: The Human Condition.

"Well, you know, there is need to distinguish that truth which is even stranger than fiction from that fiction that is even truer than it is strange."

Int: "Real magicalism?"

Otto: "Capital!"

Int: "You know, I can't help but feel that this isn't how you talk in daily life."

Otto: "I'm sure I don't."

Int: "Do you know what your next novel will be yet?"

Otto: "The next glimmer in my navel’s eye? No. One day I realize that the various what-ifs I've been noodling have decided to attempt being a novel.

"I never know. I’ve never finished a novel. That is, I've never known if a novel would be finishable or not until it was done, and one sometimes doesn’t know if it’s done until one finds it simply won’t go any further. Trust a novelist to not recognize a terminal cliff when he walks over one. After so many cliff-hangers, not to mention so many seemingly impenetrable brick walls that suddenly burst and crumble at the least tentative -- that should be most tentative, yes? -- at the most tentative touch, revealing a seemingly limitless vista of what to do next, the same limitlessness a day of clear skies and brisk weather invokes, that lasts no longer than said day, becoming the morning after yet another cloudy day; or not to mention that an author is perpetually walking amid fog, that same cloudy day brought even lower, dragging one down to the ground where yesterday one walked on cloud after stepping cloud, and so one not only often doesn’t see the brick wall or sudden cliff until one has bumped one’s nose, or stepped over the edge.

"I had always assumed that finishing a novel -- a good one that is -- would elicit a bark of triumph, but usually it is marked by a painful sensation of catastrophe, of crashing into that wall or falling onto the rocks below...”

Int: (restrained giggling)

Otto: "I know, I know, it’s tragically comical, or vice-versa, but it’s true: the surest sign one’s novel is complete is the feeling one needs an ambulance to deliver one to a literary hospital."

Int: “Writer’s clinic?"

Otto: “Preferably a reputable house of healing, not a quackulary, to which one is delivered by a quackulance."

Int: “In other words, any landing one can walk away from is a good one?"

Otto: "Exactly. Rather than say, The End, a novel should more accurately say, OUCH."

Int: “But then after awhile?”

Otto: "Yes. It is like one day waking up from a seemingly interminable disease, miraculously cured. What one thought was the mother of all writer’s blocks turns out to be simply The End."

Int: "Are those usually... exciting? Or daunting?"

Otto: "Like a dragon is, or was, I imagine, to St. George. Terribly exciting and VERY daunting. One’s more than worthy opponent, of whom one hopes to prove a match. Whereas, when I was young, first trying to write, neither the dragon, nor myself as St. George, seemed worthy of each other. It was ALL daunting. The dragon was unworthy because the George was unworthy because the dragon was unworthy because..."

Int. "Vicious circle."

Otto. "Only it seemed square. Even Sisyphus’ boulder was somewhat round. Even if the hill was never-ending, at least the damn thing rolled. Not so my first efforts. They lay flat for years. Rather than roll, gathering the moss that only a story can, they had to be flipped onto another side. In other words, I’d give up one thing and start on another. Eventually, I suppose, all that flipping wore the edges until they could roll at least a little bit. From there, things went a bit easier. More easily. Rolling is a self-polishing motion.

"Once one gains a grasp of one’s story, one’s process of writing, a sense of plot flow... the trouble then is not pushing the thing along but keeping it from getting away from you. And to not be too... smooth. Glib. Overconfident. Full of oneself."

Int: "Care to offer an example?"

Otto: "Just about anything, even my first novel, once it got rolling. Envision an author running alongside an immense round rock rolling...”

Int: "Rock’n’roll!"

Otto: "Party on! A rolling round rock around which one runs in circles of one’s own, lovingly but possessively, almost tauntingly, one minute smothering it with attention, a flurry of oh so clever, much too clever, words, the next minute ranging far afield, leaving it to roll on its own. To the reader, I imagine that it’s like having the author say, in so many - usually far too many - ‘Ha! could do this all day! With one hand tied behind my back!’"

Int: "And to the author?"

Otto: "Like both hands are tied behind your back. Straitjacket. Veston detroit.Somebody help me, please. I have this recurring delusion I'm a successful author."

Int: "Perhaps there is such a thing as method acting."
copyright Robin MOrrison





2 comments:

Aaron Paquette said...

I put you on my link list. Good luck with the "blogging".

funean said...

Few things are as underappreciated as the shameless pun. It's got nothing on the shameless plug. Or the shameless pug, for that matter, but that's unmentionable.