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Futures, Options, and Swaps (the weblog of Alan DeNiro)

“Retreating to a Not Very Safe Distance”

I remember Stephanie, years (!) ago noting that one of the prime reasons she kept writing blog entries was to push down the older ones; that they don’t seem nearly as interesting as when you first wrote them. Which, of course, happens with my stories and poems all the time-they, however, are not on public display. So The Entries become both expansions of verbiage as much as openings.

Anyway, I’m still trying to understand the schisms in my head between writing speculative fiction and poetry, and why I’d shift towards one, at certain times, as opposed to the other, at other certain times. And how the differences in writing practice came about, even though a lot of the same things that interested me in both are the same. A lot of this year has been spent trying-in practice if not in theory-to find a “Grand Unified Theory” between the two, writing towards a unifying point that incorporates both. Whether it was “successful” or not, well, the book’s still out on that. But it was a good year writing-wise, even though I doubt much of that writing will see the light of day.

I fear that a lot of it is unreadable, unusable, but at the same time…it wasn’t necessarily a bad recursive feedback loop to be on. For a while. It’s good fodder (which means “food” even though I’ve always thought it meant “material to plant stuff in, i.e. potting soil”). I go through those scattered notebooks and phrases pop out at me. Even stuff that appears in my long poem can be recalibrated later, given a cosmology. Speculative fiction is nothing if not expanding tiny phrases of strangeness into entire worlds. E.g., a line in one of my poems saying a “shetland tiger”; this tiger doesn’t “exist” in the poem; in fact, it’s a metaphor for a mouth (?)…and the poem rushes on. And I really don’t feel like writing a “story with line breaks” poem about such a thing.

But what happens when characters (imaginary people, not letters) walk through those words? What happens when they pet the tiger? They notice things about the words that you don’t, necessarily. This noticing, through their actions, might be as good of a definition of narrative-as opposed to plot-as any.

And yet at the same time, the characters are intimately you. And so, that might be the fodder-the continual interplay of You/Not-You. It helps to write about things that scare you, that move you (why am I entering second person here? I’m not trying to be perscriptive here! Bear with me.) and, more importantly, scare the living fuck out of parts of yourself that you don’t understand. Not-You, which you’ve been living with all of your life, has a lot of things to say. And the speculative breath acting as a mediator between what you understand and what you don’t, but need to write about anyway. (Another way to put this, paraphrasing Ben here, to krush and be krushed…c.f. Hal Duncan’s blog, where the title of this entry also comes from).

“Never did eye see the sun unless it had first become sunlike,” Plotinus said. Although this sounds cool on general principle-just how is a damaged cornea sunlike? Or is the sun little more than a damaged cornea?

Tue, June 7 2005 » Fiction, Life Studies, Meta/Logistics, Poetry

One Response

  1. Eric Marin June 8 2005 @ 1:08 am

    Your entry produced the following oddness, Alan:

    ideas sausage-swell in my fingertips
    lines of verse
    paragraphs of prose
    (no telling which)
    flow oil-red
    onto cocktail napkins
    along legal pad margins
    in blog comment windows
    S P E C U L A T I V E
    (whatever that means)

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