OCTOBER 2018 – POTLUCK – ‘Spice’ Your Writing With… Rules? …And Restrictions?

We’ll be having an extended discussion this month first at the Gelateria at this meet the 1st and then at my (Cypress) place on the 15th for a potlatch dinner of Spanish / Mexican food! Talking about how Rules and Restrictions can actually serve to help you ‘Spice’ your writing.

I’ll post a short article in this space soon to read beore the meeting which we’ll begin discussing on the 1st. If you have anything you’d like to talk about, feel free to drop a line in the comments beow.

We are discussing:
How rules of form and technical considerations of the craft impose constraints on the artists, yes, but they also can free us from that imposing, yawning abyss of the blank page, that absolute-anything that terrifies us into paralysis, hurling so many options our way that we are crushed beneath the weight of them all!

In the science fiction novel ‘Dune’ there is an elemental, drug-type substance known as ‘The Spice’ and it is said, “Whoever controls the spice, controls the universe”. I haven’t read ‘Dune’ yet, but it strikes me as a kind of commerce’s commerce (like they say ‘He’s a poet’s poet’), both a step above (‘Meta’) and more Base-ic. Like how money is just a metaphor for value anyway, but if you could somehow really use it for things you need, without any kind of middle man. The way the philosophers Félix Guattari and Gilles Deleuze talk about human drives and everyday life in their books ‘Anti-Oedipus’ and ‘A Thousand Plateaus’ where everything is machinery exchanging value and energy in ‘libidinal economies.’

Likewise, if the writer can somehow wrangle the chaotic energies bursting through them always, at any given time, and tame them- while also letting them run free, they would be the master of their art, and go from being a writer, to being , an AUTHOR. And this is something that learning the various aspects of literary theory, the lessons of form and critical history, and all those terms and techniques we brushed upon in some of our schooling. We will start our discussion of some of these things this month, and formulate a plan of attack, into how we as a group would like to learn from the vast library of theory and criticism.

And because we have already been talking a little bit about it, we’ll start with discussion the order of events of our works; that is, what comes first in the story? Where to start? Does it matter which chapter is the first out of all the pile of material you have brewing? Should you always start at the beginning? Or, what about the concept of ‘In Medias Res’ – to start -In The Middle’ of the action? Can one begin TOO MUCH ‘ab ovo’ – in the very beginning, literally ‘from the egg’, and bore the reader before anything at all has even happened? And on that note, what of the importance of the things we leave out? I imagine that point resonates a bit like it does in the horror film, that sometimes you create more of a fearful effect by NOT showing all the blood and guts. Like Hemingway with his ultra-sparse sentences, said to hint at 90% more iceberg beneath the surface, it can seem so much the worse for what gets left out.

Whether you’re writing an epic for the audience who wants to live in your world for a thousand years, who never wants to leave, or telling a short tale, like a punch in the gut, a hit and run, and want to flee the scene of the crime as soon as humanly possible, these are questions of style but also questions of meaning, of care, and ultimately of what your reading will tolerate, or love. Communication is a two way street, but miscommunication is someone driving the wrong way down a one way street. And as we are talking about being writers and authors, we are talking about becoming conscious and responsible enough to be both mapmaker and city planner, and knowing when to break all the rules, when you have some hidden vista you need to get your characters and reader together through, down that byway, to show them that view, they won’t ever forget.

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