I’m already feeling oddly constrained. It’s discomforting how quickly the muscles can return, and scare you with their unfulfilled aching.
I’ve been back to writing for, what, barely over 3 weeks now? And already the P.E.M. is starting to show its limits. Not in the doing, and certainly not in the technique; I learn more and more of word choice each time I sit down to it. I think, even despite the nine-year layoff, I’ve somehow come back as a far more mature writer: I keep seeing how to do things in ways I never thought of before…and the maturity is purely in how open I am to the notion that there are so many ways to do it that I’ve never thought of before, and my willingness to accept and embrace that.
I used to know exactly what I was doing, and how I was going to do it. Don’t have much of a clue now, at least not in the planning, but it’s fun, and I get a great “aha!” each time something turns in a new way.
But I can start to see the edges, where it begins to drop off to absurdity. Unless you’re James Joyce—something I wouldn’t suggest, or even advise—the patience and endurance to have these P.E.M. pieces stretch for more than a page, or 500 words or so, becomes not entirely worth the effort. It’s tiring work slogging through the density of it. I know that and I’m the one who wrote it in the first place.
I feel pure narrative start to creep in more and more, and have so far been successful in fighting it off…but it’s there, hovering, waiting. I’ve stolen bits and pieces, tried to weave it into the work I’m doing, my anti-narrative, for contrast and effect…and it’s okay with that, just keeps sitting there, waiting.
It’s more patient than I am.
Eventually, if my hands keep typing my own words, they will stray further and further into narrative, and at some point I’ll be all the way there; I’ll be hoping to keep a cloak of P.E.M. about my shoulders as I wander through for warmth and comfort, but the ground beneath my feet will be an old, familiar, treacherous territory.
I’m not sure how I feel about that. Is it possible, if you allow the art and the work to speak to you, to draw you forth, to have it take you places you don’t want to go? And I don’t mean emotionally, I’m not talking about the subject matter…though given my past, I suppose writing a straight-forward story about two guys doing something is the equivalent of a confessional, my public confrontation of buried fears and scars.
I mean the style, and the format, and the tools used to create it. Can those things be the demons I’m hesitant to wake?
And could that last sentence have come out any more melodramatic? Joss would be pleased, I’m sure. Or at least, one of his characters would.
Stay tuned…answers in one form or another (and strangled silence is a viable form) to follow eventually.