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bear by san

March 2017



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bear by san

never was a cornflake girl. thought that was a good solution.

When you explicate and concretize something, you often rob it of mystery and interest. Because liminal spaces, areas that are open to interpretation, are much more interesting than black and white, right and wrong.

This is an ongoing issue for the commercial artist, because of course the commercial pressure is to make your work more structured, the challenging. And I also tend to have little patience for the intentionally cryptic.

But the meaning in a story comes from what we lace into it, what we bring to the table as readers, and how the structure of the story shapes that input.

Make it too plain, rob it of power. Explications are not poetry.

1056 words last night on Pinion, 974 this morning. Page 310.

And of course 2169 words of unnecessary fanfiction. Which was far more fun than the novel, I gotta tell ya.

Are we there yet?

394 miles to Rivendell. I've just left Farmer Maggot's house.


"...Because liminal spaces, areas that are open to interpretation, are much more interesting than black and white, right and wrong...."

Well for us, at least, which is why we write what we do.

"the intentionally cryptic". yes. the difference between confusion (ie: the writer doesn't really know what he/she means, or wants to mean, or what really happened or is going to happen, so he/she decides that he/she is just being deep and artsy) and meaningful ambiguity.

meaningful ambiguity is good.

often the questions are much more interesting than the answers, when everything mysterious gets resolved into the specific and concrete. so my own issue becomes: how much to give the reader to make him/her feel satisfied, to fulfil the promise of revelation, while holding back enough to respect that sense of mystery, the unknown and (perhaps) unknowable -- and, along with that, the reader's own imagination?

the reader always wants answers, closures -- our habit as pattern-seeking creatures. but we mustn't give the readers what they want, because what they think they want is rarely what they truly want, and often not what they need (in order to achieve the truly full-bodied, best-crafted emotional experience of the thing).

often the questions are much more interesting than the answers,

Yes yes yes yes you get it. Yes, all that you said, exactly.
I like the kind where we can't even tell where the author is deliberately bending rules, and where zie may have actually nodded, got careless. Bombadil, Bilbo's express train, Tolkien's fox's pov, Father Christmas in Narnia, parts of COLD COMFORT FARM....

Maybe things were different B.C., before computers. Computers make it too easy to change everything to match.

Spaces, jumps, leaps . . .

It is always an interesting question, how much space to leave in the tale, how big a leap to require of the reader? And how many leaps?

Your writing requires the reader to be fairly gymnastic. A truly sedentary reader could pull a mental hammie while reading your stuff. My partner and I were just discussing this last night: How we do a little story-related stretching before picking up an E. Bear book because we know we are going to have to keep up.

We like that.

Any writer who requires readers to work a little undoubtably loses some readers. And I suppose that is why there is pressure to simplify, to make the book a series of easy steps rather than a bit of an obstacle course. But it is the simple, ambling, predictable book that loses me as a reader. So perhaps one loses readers no matter what, lol.

Is it too much of a cliche to say "to thine on self be true" when it comes to this sort of writing decision? :-)

Re: Spaces, jumps, leaps . . .

Ambling is a good word.

You said "liminal"! I'm dobbing. You're in trouble!
I'm telling on you to Margo Lanagan.

You Americans are such relentlessly mono-English speakers. Honestly!
Send her over.

I'll bite her.
Get her where it hurts: steal her red pencils!
I use green pencils. obviously, I am the anti-margo.
Huh. I've always heard that as "[There] never was a cornflake girl who thought that was a good solution."

Not sure which makes more sense.

Explanations of finite things are dull. Explorations of the infinite, however, can be fascinating.

Of course, those tend to be the things where the explanations *are* the questions, and the answers are just the things that let you ask better questions. If you light on a good topic, you can work toward answers all you want, with no fear of being dull, because you'll never reach the end of it. It's not built to have an end.

Explanations of things the reader can work out without explanations, and explanations of things which don't need to be explained, even when lack of explanation may lead to discomfort - pfui. I'm with you.
One of the things I love about Magritte is how he is most certainly structured in his commercial work, there is an implied subversion of that structure in his usage, yet it is still successful in its overt commercial message. Just goes to show, doesn't it.