Mind the solipsism.

I keep a running Word document titled process and aesthetic.

{{{{This is writer-wank, so if that’s not your thing, opt out now.}}}

In this document, I keep track of my process–how a given story or story-set or essay or chapter or novel worked during the writing of it. This includes the ecstasy of influence (what I read and how closely I hewed to the influence of said reading, and at what angles [tone, voice, character, sentence structure, lyricism/language use, plot trix, etc.]), writerly tricks (readings drafts aloud, handwriting, the core idea, thematic analysis, genre convention analysis…anything that got my mind buzzing), habits (sleep, food, TV, and in what combination)…you get the idea. Is a comprehensive document of my schizoid process so I can track what worked for any given piece. This is accompanied by my attempts to articulate an aesthetic–what I was trying to do, and why, and how a given piece succeeded in meeting its ambitions, and how it failed, and what that means for the overarching aesthetic vision of my artist-life.
THIS ALL SOUNDS SO PRETENTIOUS I WANT TO HORK.
Today I had a crisis of aesthetic vision. I went blind. Couldn’t see my own work, or a revision process, or a way out of the woods. It was awful. I keep producing pieces with the same basic flaw, and it’s a crucial one. Collapsed in tears, had a minor meltdown, the usual drill. Felt like I had a crack in the foundation, that my writing could not do what I wanted it to do and never would.
Then I had my individual session with DAD, and dude. The guy nailed it. “Contradictions,” he said. And that one word was exactly what I needed to hear, and opened up a revision path for like, 9 stories I’ve been sitting on because they’re not working and I couldn’t grok why, and people kept critting them and giving me totally reasonable responses, and I just. Couldn’t. Fix.
Because liminal fantasy requires both the fantastic and the real, and the rules w/in each need to be locked in NOT via character motivation necessarily, but by an absence of contradiction. I’m hoping that after I leave Clarion, I can look to these shelved stories and highlight the contradictions, and make some clean and clear choices instead. If I can do that, I think maybe, maybe, I’m fumbling toward the aesthetic sensibility I want.

It was a revelatory, brutal day. Which is the whole point of Clarion.

I have to add as well, that in all fairness, it could have been much, much worse: my wonderful roommates/friends here all helped me through–beer w/ roomies, walking to non-cafeteria food w. Erin/Tim/Jim, swimming in the sunlight with the stunningly brilliant Other Brooke. How lucky are we, all of us at Clarion, to love each other so after only four weeks?

That said, this girlwonders needs a lightweight humor story for next week, wicked fierce.

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