Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Card #84, by matt cavotta

I'm in a productive place today. Sunday, I wrote after almost deliberately putting it off on Saturday, and coming up with a weak excuse on Friday. As the weekend progressed, the chapter in question occurred to me in the morning and in my still moments in the afternoon until I could almost recite it. Sitting down and putting it on paper was more therapeutic than it was strictly work-a-day. And I guess that makes me sound (more) crazy, but I stand firm on my position that this is a good thing.

The drafted chapter marks my fifteen thousandth approximate word for this project, which isn't a quarter of a way through, but it still feels like something to celebrate. I discovered that at least for this particular series, I always start with several, disparate plots, and then wind them together like a stiff braid as the story goes on. I think when it's all said and done I'll refer to this technique as "something I just came up with," though I'm sure any number of how-to books have this method named and detailed.

And it did occur to me that 15,000 words could be a quarter of a way through. I think on average my books so far hover around the 70k mark (and you thought I was really writing, pfft) and even back in college I was accused of possessing "an economy of words." That bared itself out in a recent review of the book, and I think the reviewer was spot on, both in what I was trying to do, and how I was trying to do it. And all of that is to say that maybe shorter is okay. Books are getting more brief, and not just books, but language. I asked a co-worker about a someday universal language of images projected directly into the eye that could stand for a message, a passage, a book, like a kaleidoscope for the mind. Recently I was asked what I enjoyed more, books or television, and of course the writer in me demanded I answer one way but the honesty in me made me think hard about my reply.

Months ago, maybe years, I remarked on the odd situation of Frank Miller condescending to the very popular movies his very popular graphic novels had become in the same way the literati condescends to Miller's own claims to fame. It struck me that all of this was simply the old resenting the new for being different.

I had a Shakespeare class once where a paper was due every week. The assignments had very specific guidelines: they were to be single-spaced and one page, no more and no less. The professor told us that if done correctly, no more words than could fit on a sheet of paper were needed to convey our ideas. More than that and we were wasting our breath. Less, and we clearly didn't understand what we were talking about. Perhaps that message touched me (at least, I'd prefer to blame my brevity on someone else).

The point is, the future isn't coming. It's here, and I think we can all admit that we'd much rather be on the train than standing on the tracks.

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