Monday, May 6, 2013

Mixed Similes; Mixed Feelings

From: Folded Sky

"I'm in the process of rereading something I wrote twenty years ago — an unpublished novel that has always been my favourite child. It's like walking along a rediscovered path through the woods, a path you know that you, and you alone, once carved out of dense forest. It's a bit overgrown in places, and sometimes hard to negotiate, but with some judicious cleanup the going is not only smooth but full of surprises that only come with reading a manuscript that has gone 'cold,' as John Gardner spoke of in his book On Becoming a Novelist.
     But it's much easier 'to have written than to write' to paraphrase the famous quote from Michael Kanin. The beginning of the process: the initial chop at the dense jungle with your machete (Where to start? Which tree do I take down first?) is much more daunting.
     Starting a new writing project is like dipping your toe into cold water before the big plunge. Before long you are immersed in it, your lake of words, wondering what all the fuss was about. "Come on in, the water's fine!" you want to call out to no one in particular.

     Like a fish oblivious to the pond that sustains it, you lose yourself inside the skin of your characters, enthralled to the 'fictive dream' as John Gardner called it — again from his book On Becoming a Novelist.
    But writing a longer work isn't quite like that — you have to come up for air every now and then, climb out of the water and step back, stand there in the cool evening breeze and assess it for what it is: a lake full of cold fish. It might seem real, tangible, believable, warm to the touch, (you're sure of it, you've spent your day there — the water's fine); but does it have meaning? Is it worth committing to paper?"
— Michael Hale

For a review of A Fold in the Tent of the Sky, go here...

Buy all of John Gardner's books here...

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