Writer’s Block

Writer’s Block.
(by Drew Coffman / CC BY 2.0 / Desaturated from original)

I envy a writer’s block. It presupposes a writer feeling something, a full heart contrasting to a blank page and finding in that contradiction the motive for despair. Words pounding from the inside, trying to rip the skin, yearning for the freedom only the page can provide. But they are not free, for there is a jailer: taste — otherwise anything can fill a page. I envy a writer’s taste too. My desperation comes from reasoning that goes nowhere, from empty propositions combining floating concepts, from fallacious arguments combining biased propositions. My desperation comes from fake premisses becoming surreal conclusions, which in turn become fake premisses and then surreal conclusions again, like I am walking on a Moebius strip, twisting my own path into an endless, aggravating loop. My desperation doesn’t come from feelings that don’t become words. There are none. Absurdity reigns, but I ignore the feeling. I ignore feeling. I pretend reasoning suffices. Man is the animal that thinks, or is he not? But isn’t him the animal that feels too? Emotions — real ones — are not just sense perceptions connecting reality to some organ. Yes, they do depend on reason — partially. You habituate yourself to value this and that in such a way as to feel it just like you do. You could force yourself to feel otherwise — perhaps — but not today. Today you are a slave obeying the winner of the Platonic conflict going on inside your soul. Or is it you the winner? Whatever the motor generating that feeling, when it blossoms, it is unique to man. No animal feels like we do: mirth and sorrow, pride and brokenness, satisfaction and anger. No animal feels achievement in his bones or the joy of being alive. No animal wants revenge with all his heart only to feel ashamed when he realizes it’s not his heart speaking, but something smaller and darker and baser. Both feelings — revenge and shame — attempt to rewrite the present: the first broods about the future; the second, about the past — both useless. No animal is that stupid. They have more important things to do: survive is one. And we have even more important things to do: live is one. Yet we don’t. Not really. It is human feeling that will eventually fill the page: life abstracted — not words or thoughts or arguments. These you see above are words, mere words. All of them hemmed in by a single too-long a paragraph as if there could be art enough to justify that. There simply isn’t any reason to break the “line of thought”, the line of “non-feeling”. This is just me trying to write nonstop, to feel while doing so, and failing miserably. I stop and I don’t feel. Words are forceful; emotions nonexistent. Envy is the most I feel; Oh, if that would at least suffice! I envy writers. I envy those who feel. Yet I cherish reason and logic. Is there any logic in that? At least I don’t feel writer’s block. I am not a writer. I’ll never be.

Truby and the World of Story

The world of story, John Truby explains in “The Anatomy of Story”, is “a complex and detailed web in which each element has story meaning and is in some way a physical expression of the character web and especially of the hero.” He uses the term “condenser-expander”, because the story world condenses meaning and then gradually expands it into the minds of the audience, like subliminal messages working in the background. Like we say in SpecOps jargon, you must try to conquer the “hearts and minds” of your audience, and with the right world for your story, you do just that.

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Truby and the Moral Argument

Ah, how complex it is to write fiction! To write anything, for that matter. John Truby, in “The Anatomy of Story”, says I need to create moral growth, but how does one know how to grow morally in the first place? That is exactly why I began to write; why I am writing right now — to evolve morally. I need to be acquainted with words so that I can express my life through them, so that I can learn to understand it. The only solution I foresee is to grow as I write. Again, how complex!

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Truby and the Why of Fiction

The book that made me want to learn the craft of fiction.
(“Moby Dick”, by Augustus Burnham Shute, 1851-1906.)

I have this desire to write about my life. It sounds egocentric and it probably is a bit, but I do think there is a lot to tell — if only I could learn the lessons. The truth is that it is hard to face the truth. So I thought trying to write fiction might be a way to make it easier. Maybe by pretending I am writing about someone else — someone who doesn’t even exist — mixing personalities here and there, adding whatever details I find interesting, I might actually be able to analyze my life instead of forever evading the task. The problem is that I know next to nothing about the craft of writing fiction.

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Order, Duality and Darkness

“If I am the chief of sinners, I am the chief of sufferers also.”
— Dr. Jeckyll, in Robert Louis Stevenson’s, “The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde”, page 23.
(Dr. Jeckyll’s two friends chat with him from the street below, only to see him suddenly lose control and slam the window in their faces. Who does not have a Mr. Hyde looming in the darkness within?)

How amazing the power of order! The right order, of course; that which only a great writer achieves. For what is writing but finding the correct sequence of words amidst the chaos of possibilities? If you give a typewriter to a monkey, they say, and let him pound the keys for the whole of infinity, he will almost surely compose the “Iliad“. Yet man-the-thinking-ape needs only a handful of years to create his masterpieces. It’s not just about words or sentences or characters or plots. It’s almost like some premeditated crime, with all its malign machinations embedded into words, anticipating its consummation in an awe-inspiring passage. It was writing about darkness — and thinking about the darkness within — that I remembered “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” and one of the best scenes I have ever encountered.

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