Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The Bigger Picture

A paragraph of cold, hard context.

Circa 3 months ago I dropped my laptop, and mangled the hard drive. Photos of loved ones? That’s what Facebook is for. The entire record collection may, painstakingly, be re-ripped. Everything that can be replaced will be, and everything that can’t I can bear to live without. Except, that is, for 25,000 words – in a hilarious twist of fate, the 25,000 I wrote for the Clarion West Write-a-Thon this summer. So what’s the big deal? I marathoned 25K in 6 weeks; I can do it again, surely.


What may be a little harder to put my finger on, in all probability, will be the chapter outline it’s taken me well over a decade to chisel.

Naturally I know what happens in my novel, who do you take me for? Just, I know what happens in my novel in the manner of a tourist who’s been inside a museum once, under cover of night, stealing a surreptitious peek at a picture here and a statue there before being caught, red-handed and Stendhal Syndromed, and thrown down the stone steps back into the starless gutter of a city night.

Which is a flamboyant way of saying that actually, I haven’t the foggiest what happens in my novel.

For, inside what still thinks it is a single standalone book, I have discovered a microcosmos too big for my brain to contain all at the same time. We’re talking more years, unions, borders, allegiances than I can count while sober on reality, and I am thankful for that. When I have grace enough to write something that doesn’t suffer from the artificiality of the mundane, it is because the world I have tapped won’t fit into my head.

Now in a moment of fevered inspiration, I saw an actual map to this place – stark across my retinas, clear as day – and traced the path across, even as I saw it. The detail of it, the precious interlocking of plotlines, the seamlessness with which storylines that had always appeared to me in fragments joined hands and contours, becoming one before me.

I had glimpsed the bigger picture.

And now, well, someone’s gone and torn up the blueprint.

The question is not,

Is the pretty picture worth the pretty fee of an expert in a sterile white coat, in a sterile white lab?
Of course it’s worth it, just as certainly as I can’t afford it. So the question is not really a question at all; it’s much more like a statement, and it runs like this.
Mourn your brainchild, but only for a while longer. Then come the bright new year, man up. Stop thinking of what you lost, and think of that which you can still build. The blueprint was merely a draft, imperfect and incomplete. You didn’t do your story justice; not entirely, not yet. Everything you wrote in that instant of epiphanic revelation, you can write better. You type girl, and type a little faster.

No comments:

Post a Comment