The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

On the Rebound pt. 2

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The truly great rebounders are the guys who get in the thick of things and throw themselves around devil-may-care; guys who scratch, claw, and bite to tear the ball down.  They are singular in purpose, and that focus is the seed of their reputations as fierce, relentless, and indispensible.  When I think of these guys, I almost always think of Dennis Rodman.  Even in his early days, before he went batshit crazy, Rodman was a board man of some renown.  He was a key piece of the Detroit Pistons dynasty of the late 80s- early 90s before going on to even more glory with the Chicago Bulls.  When he was with the Pistons, his nickname was “Worm.”  How fitting for the guy who got dirty as he threw himself into the muck to fetch the ball for gunslingers like Isiah Thomas, Mark Aguirre, Vinny Johnson, and Joe Dumars.

It helps to have that rebounders mentality when you’re reworking a piece.  You can’t be afraid to get in there and get knocked around.  If it’s taking a physical toll on you, if you’re getting gouged eyes and sprained fingers and a bruised face, you’re probably doing it wrong.  But there is a mental price to pay.  You’ve got this story roiling in your mind, and you’re spending a lot of psychic energy to get it to work.  If some writer friends get ahold of it, you might have to soothe your ego some (it helps to remember that You Are Not Your Writing).  Furthermore, you might not have even finished the story yet–  you might have the toughest part yet to write.  It’s dirty, tedious work.  But every writer worth his salt needs to be able to do it.  Like with Rodman, there might be glory at the end.  You can’t know that until you take yourself through it.

So I’ve been mucking around with this frame narrative since last week.  I almost have a full draft, even though I’m on the fourth draft of the story.  The clinching scene is still being shaped.  I’m uneasy about it and have been approaching it at oblique angles, hoping that it would jump out of my pen while I’ve been distracted writing the framing pieces of the narrative and filling in some other structural elements and sweating over line edits.  That hasn’t been working.  I’ve got all that other stuff done now, and the clinching scene didn’t jump out of anywhere.  So I have had to sit down with the sole intention of writing it.  It’s only about half a page.  But it’s an intense half.  That’s why I’ve been avoiding it.

And this business of the frame narrative is hard!  I have to have some sort of plausible reason for the narrator to be telling the other character’s story in the first place.  It can’t just materialize out of thin air.  That’s not how Heart of Darkness works, and if you want to succeed you want to think about using master works as a model for your own.  So I had that problem to solve.  I have at least a temporary solution.

There’s this business, too, of having different narrative voices in the story:  The frame narrator and the narrator of the framed story (are you following this?).  So I have to pay mind to how they speak.  This is interesting to me, because the last two poems I have written had that same two-voice device.  So it appears those poems were good practice for writing a frame narrative.

Finally, speaking of practice…  this whole thing might end up being nothing more than practice.  I don’t know what will become of the whole mess over the next few months.  I’m not sure if The New Yorker or The Paris Review are quite ready for me yet.  I don’t care.  The process is more important than the product right now.  I’m still cutting my fiction teeth (when they aren’t getting knocked out in a rebounding scrum), but I’m feeling better about my ability than I was a year ago when I started to take a long look at exploring the genre.


Written by seeker70

January 15, 2011 at 9:53 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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