I just finished doing a CNTRL F search for the letter combination ly through six hundred pages of manuscript, a process that took me
three days. At each ly, I had to make a
decision, and executing it almost always involved some mousing and
deleting. If I ever write "stared
blankly" or "whispered softly" again, please just shoot me.
I'm working on the second draft of my novel, and these "search and destroy" missions are necessary (I got rid of ninety-five
percent of my colons) but they're so mechanical that they start feeling like
stalling. I haven't started the real
work, the creative honing of prose that just doesn't sparkle -- or sparkles way
too much for its own good. If it really
is procrastination, then maybe it would explain the troubled wrongness I
started feeling yesterday, as though I had neglected something important but
couldn't remember what it was. It had a
little guilt attached to it, too, or so it seemed. I don't know what it is, but it's still with me. Last night I was reading the Mountain Xpress
and I think I got a clue from Rob Brezsny's horoscope feature, "Free Will
Every time I read his Aquarius for the week, I have the impression that he must know me and is writing for me and me alone. (As an experiment, I've tried reading his
advisories to other signs, and I'm afraid they usually work just the same for
me, but that's all right.) This week he
writes for Aquarius: "I would love
it if you could find a sword that could cut itself. Or a fire that could burn itself. Or some water you could wash.
But even if you can conjure the magic to attract an experience that
simply resembles one of those marvelous paradoxes, it would set in motion a
series of epiphanies that would liberate you from an inferior paradox -- a
confusing absurdity that is not worthy of you and that has been draining your
life force." Why is it that
Brezsny can write, week after week, a horoscope for me that I can not quite
understand but which nevertheless seems to hit the nail on the head? Inferior paradox? What makes a paradox inferior?
Well, he answers that. First, he
redefines paradox as a confusing absurdity, and I'll buy that. What makes it inferior is that it is 1) not
worthy of me, and 2) has been draining my life force.
Rob Brezsny knows all about my novel. He must. In it I write about paradoxes, religious ones, metaphysical ones, also
spiritual ones. And I have been worried
about trying to expose these paradoxes.
Yes, now that I read my horoscope for the week, I'm convinced that the
uneasy, sort of guilty, troubled wrongness that's been eating at me, is all
about those paradoxes. And the kicker
is, I believe it's because they are not worthy of me and they've been draining
my life force. These paradoxes,
paradoxically, are the fodder for my novel, yet cannot be worked out in a novel
without rendering the novel trivial.
I'd better say something about the paradoxes.
One is that there is a God, and that atheists are not wrong, are in fact correct in believing there is no God. Another is that we exist in linear time, and can arrive at any
point in time whenever we want to (but I mean really). And (somewhat related to the time paradox)
it is possible to share the consciousness of another person, though that person
may be long gone. That last one sounds
like plain old ouija board nonsense, but it's something else. The problem with paradoxes such as these is
that they evaporate when you try to expose them. Logic, obviously, is their enemy -- they're paradoxes. Then how do I write about them? I have written a long story about people
whose lives are grazed by paradox, but I'm confused and my life force has been,
and is still being drained by the process.
I need to find fire that will burn itself, water that I can wash, and
set in motion that series of epiphanies that will liberate me from those
I'm not at all sure how to accomplish such discoveries. My best idea so far is to ride my motorcyle a lot, but it's raining today and I won't ride in the rain. And besides, while riding does often bring
on euphoria, I don't know how to parlay euphoria into epiphany. I'm open to suggestions. Email me.
The very act, should it happen, would be a pseudo-paradox: Cynically, I doubt that anyone reads these
posts, and yet I hope they do. (Get
it? A cynic full of hope.) If you respond, then that confusing
absurdity could be the very savior of my work.