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For to end yet again - shadows of echoes of memories of songs
j4
j4
For to end yet again
Paralysed by choice, I end up writing nothing. The blank page is not an absence of words, but the space where all words could exist. It's all of time, all possible futures, all the things with which you could fill that time. It's a snow-covered field, and your feet will make one path across and around it, just as soon as you start walking; you can backtrack, retrace your steps, jump sideways, change your mind a thousand times, but all those indecisions will leave their mark. The blank page is your bed, the head-sized space on the pillow; the white sheets are unforgivingly unfillable when unoccupied, the margins are too narrow when they're full. The blank page is your skin, and it scars easily.

Given two hours of time, I am quite capable of filling them by agonising about the fact that I can't fit everything I want to do into those two hours. Unable to choose, I end up choosing nothing: not even choosing nothing, merely defaulting to nothing. Two hours of staring at the wall, the blank page; or of listmaking, dithering, weighing up the pros and cons: sorting a pile of stones into the right pocket and the left while the stream of time flows on.

To start anything is to fail to start something else: I do not endorse this belief but it clings like cobwebs to my head and hands. To start anything is to fail even at that thing: to start is to move from the ideal to the actual, to step down from the pedestal of potential perfection. Between the idea and the reality falls the shadow: it falls on the cave wall, falls like a blade, the execution of an idea. But to fail to start at all is a double failure: not just the failure to live your life but the failure to be born. Nobody can know about the perfection of the idea until it is obituarised in its imperfect actualisation.

To begin a narrative is to condemn it to an ending: to tell a story is to write its death warrant. Is it better to stifle it at birth?

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Comments
keirf From: keirf Date: November 2nd, 2009 08:22 am (UTC) (Link)
No.
ewx From: ewx Date: November 2nd, 2009 08:54 am (UTC) (Link)

To begin a narrative is to condemn it to an ending

I can think of an author or two who could be usefully reminded of that.

tigerfort From: tigerfort Date: November 2nd, 2009 11:00 am (UTC) (Link)
To begin a narrative is to condemn it to an ending

While I do agree with ewx, I actually don't agree with the original sentiment - there are many good, well-written narratives where, at the end of the book, there's a natural conclusion to one story and another one starts without the author being committed to writing about it. Just because the characters have moved offstage that doesn't mean their tales are over, just that the writer has told the part of their story that's immediately relevant.
metame From: metame Date: November 2nd, 2009 04:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
To begin a narrative is to condemn it to an ending

Hmmm, might it be that beginning it is like inviting it out on a walk, and seeing some things together? Sure, you have to (or get to) choose a particular route that time, but there's nothing stopping you taking a different route another time.

Write, and if you don't like what you end up with then re-write or write something different - it isn't wasted time.

There's probably even some high-concept collection out there which has the same start for every short story in the book and just lets them each diverge and run their different courses. Calvino'd do it well.

Many authors recycle plots and rework them over a career. Agatha Christie springs to mind - many of her longer plots are extended, re-imaged variants of short stories she did.

Nobody can know about the perfection of the idea until it is obituarised in its imperfect actualisation.

Every telling is "just" highlighting another facet of the idea(l). The whole is bound to be more complex than any part, but that doesn't mean the parts detract from the whole. These facets are all we have, probably all we can handle. It's only a finger but it can point to the moon, etc.


Not sure where the burst of optimism sprang from.
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