Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Voice

So I was grappling with chapter 10 last night, revising the same paragraph for the 20th fucking time, and I had to push away from the laptop to take a break. This chapter's been brutal. I went bipolar on it Monday night:

"This sucks; nobody is going to be interested in-"
"Wait, no, we can fix this. What if we add...yes. Yes."
"No! Cut it! We must cuts it!"
"How about if we twist this a little? Yes! Yesss! That's it my precious. Golum. Golum."

Anyway, so I went down to the basement and picked up books by some of the masters (?), Asimov, Clarke, Brooks, Eddings, Jordan (lol) and I noticed that I wanted to stuff my voice down their throats. I've been so long at critting, that words my mind found perfectly acceptable when I first read those books now stood out like a sore thumb (Or maybe they stood out back then as well, and I just couldn't put a finger on it.). Not a lot (except in Jordan's case), but enough that I had to ask myself if there's only one PERFECT rhythm to words in our minds, and any time an author's words deviate from that, it sounds "wrong" even if there's nothing wrong with the sentence.

Definitely, the words on the page release some kind of endogenous endorphins or opiates in the brain that give us pleasure like the rhythm and lyrics of a song would. The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that a good writer is like a good songwriter, able to tap into that natural flow in the brain. We must find that. When I read William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist as a kid, there were scenes that literally had my skin crawling, put tears in my eyes, and I had to set the book down. Clunky words could never do that. Words that didn't fall in the rhythm my brain expected could never do that. My brain had to merge on that highway of thought with his and become one in the fictive dream. They don't have to be identical brainwaves, but close like those parrots. Must find the lyrics.

1 comment:

  1. You know the really weird thing is that I THINK I have the rhythm, THINK the story sounds fine and then when I read it much much later - as I have done with a book I had published a few years ago, I'm horrified by the fact that some of the prose is clunky, that I used names where he or she would have worked better, that some sentences seemed to be missing a word that would have made them make perfect sense - I wondered why I hadn't noticed them at the time. I suppose what I'm saying is - don't sweat it, Fred. When you pick your book off the shelf in five or so years time, what felt perfect when you wrote it, might not anymore!