I had a publishing deal. That was the dream. Or almost. It was a dream, but it wasn’t quite a deal. It was a letter from an agent who had expressed interest in the past and had replied again. That was something. And then I blew it. I complained to her about my years in publishing hinterland – or Neverland – never having published a thing. I searched through my old titles. I couldn’t even remember what they might be about. But they did intrigue. I only needed them in print, with well designed covers and just the right font. And so I had a short series run, gave copies to my family and friends, and told one about complaining to this agent who had interest, but he was on the phone, or there was an event, and he forgot to even take the book when he left. That was the dream. Not publishing anything, just writing, like now, this.
What one must aim for in the struggle to control the desires was the condition of “ethical virility” according to the model of “social virility”. In the use of male pleasures, one had to be virile with regard to oneself, just as one was masculine in one’s social role. In the full meaning of the world, moderation was a man’s virtue. To be immoderate was to be in a state of nonresistance with regard to the force of pleasures, and in a position of weakness and submission. In this sense, the man of pleasures and desires, the man of non-mastery (akrasia) or self-indulgence (akolasia) was a man who could be called feminine.*
*Taken with a grain or two of salt.
All I want to do is expand the narrative gaze so that the world is in the reader’s head, and all of the characters are specific and clear, giving each and every scene an ideal arc and so embroil the meta in a tightly composed understanding of why we’re all here. (And then I want to go to Europe.*)
*Credit to Steve Martin.
Och engaged the signal and listened with the rest to the bitter message from Earth. “This is not open to negotiation. You are ordered to return.”
“We are leaving,” he replied simply.
“We condemn your actions. Your assets are to be seized, everything you own on Earth.”
“We give everything we have left behind freely. It is all for you. Use it for the good of all.”
“Your families will pay a dear price for your betrayal.”
“We would like you to accept our departure, commander. What else is there for you to do?”
“Set your course for return or you will be condemned.” The radio went down.
“They hung up on us?” Dee asked.
Och nodded. “It’s like a bad break-up.”
I learned a lot at my Kenyon College writing camp. I learned about when to use different forms of dialogue. I learned about revelations, voice and x and y. I learned about repetition. I learned to listen. Chris Tilghman is a lovely man. He guides with self-deprecating wisdom. He shares his soul in an easy, remarkable fashion. He and my colleagues – especially Caitlin Fitzpatrick, our writing fellow – buoyed my spirits, reminded me to be less of an ass and more a writer. Just listen.
The final lesson: Endings need to be surprising and yet inevitable. The writer needs to resolve things and have something else to say in the end.
A writing guidebook doesn’t exist, and if did, it would confuse.
A story can’t be someone reflecting about their self. That’s boring. Same with the Uber Voice. Boring. The first person is interesting because it looks out at the world. The third person examines others in detail as well as, of course, the self. Seeing someone else through another’s eyes just might be the highest level of interiority. Omniscient first person, that’s the thing. Half of us are firsters. Half of us are thirders. In the end, first and third person is mere grammar. Boom, boom.