I’m deep in page proofs at the moment. Carefully reading a typeset version of my book line by line, sometimes reading whole chapters aloud, never quite going as fast I would like, and always fearing that I’m not moving slow enough. It’s the contradictory nature of proofs, and you want to make sure that you find this sort of thing
I was going to put up a post on pop-culture references, but I think I’ll leave that until next week. Instead, and briefly, I thought I’d write something about not being sensible. Sometimes when you teach writing, what you are really teaching is the middle ground. The things to be aware of, the things to cut from your writing, bad habits etc. What’s harder to teach is how to let go. How to go OTT.
Because sometimes you have to.
Now you might not agree with me, because as with every writing rule, concept, manifesto whatever, it’s both right and wrong because everyone’s different. (And it’s not really a rule, it’s just me trying to avoid my proofs, I suspect)
I’m excited by prose that is controlled and reckless, dark and light, and sometimes it’s not about having a sensible amount of recklessness, or a reasonable amount of experiment, it’s about letting go entirely.
We (that’s a generalised we, and possibly a meaningless one generated to produce this argument – shoot yourself in the foot much, trent?) sometimes have an image of writing as being only one true thing: disciplined, functional, a carriage for the story, which is all well and good. But why shouldn’t it be something else too, why can’t it be like lightning on occasion, random, shocking and powerful?
William Burroughs comes to mind for me, and William Faulkner, and Emily Brontë too. Let me stress that I’m not talking about the process of the writing, or the polishing of the prose, but the writing itself. Come to think of it it’s there in all the writers I love. Now, I know I’m being a bit vague (more than a bit) and trying to describe the intangible. But I think I’m on to something – or maybe I’m just tired.
Whose prose does this to you? Whose stories have gone totally OTT and carried you along with them?
I better get back to my proofs.