it's a great life, if you don't weaken (matociquala) wrote,
it's a great life, if you don't weaken

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won't make trouble. don't need no fuss. but i'm wounded, old, and i'm treacherous.

A funny thing happened on the way to the--

no, wait, that's not how the story goes.

At some point in the past couple of years, I've lost control of my stories. I mean, not--not like I had no control over them when I started writing, and just did things in any way I could because I didn't have the toolkit to choose how I was going to try to accomplish any given task. It was all brute force and ignorance, and not a lot of technique.

No, I still remember how to write. I still have all the tools in my toolkit, and I know how to use them. It's not the writing I've lost control of.

It's the stories. They've gotten... well, all the tidy has come out of them, and some of the calculation, and some of the rigid adherence to structure. They feel kind of wobbly and loose and ambiguous in my head. It's been scaring me, because I've been getting this sense that what I'm writing these days is not just not under control, but not controllable at all. Like there's bottom down there I can't see.

But based on the reactions I'm getting to them, that's working out okay somehow.

See, I used to know what the structures did, what they were there for, what work every piece did and how it affected the balance of the whole. I was a watchmaker. I had figured out how to build these machines and I could speed them up or slow them down. They didn't control time, but they were excellent devices for measuring it, quantifying it, making it observable and maybe even comprehensible.

And then suddenly I couldn't do that anymore, couldn't make those approximations that make something incredibly complex and contradictory more easily apprehensible.

I was panicky about it. I felt like they were all wrong. They were broken; they weren't working.

And then I started looking at some of the stuff other people are saying about my newer stories--"The Horrid Glory of Its Wings," "Sonny Liston takes the Fall," etc--and I realized something. They were working. They were working in ways I couldn't explain or quantify or set out on the dust cloth on the desk and move around with tweezers. They were working in messing, organic ways. These were not machines: these were organisms.

You don't own an organism. You negotiate with it.

These days the damned things are less like fine-geared pocketwatches and more like TARDISes--full of mysterious clankings and familiar spirits. Quite possibly possessed, a little bit random and out of control, never quite doing what I expect when I expect it. But actually in tune with something nexpressible about the nature of time, rather than just measuring each second ticking past.

And bigger on the inside than on the outside.

They seem to have taken on a life of their own.

That's really nifty.

I guess I have to start thinking of them as partners rather than tools now. That should be interesting.
Tags: writing craft wank
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