Monday, February 11, 2008

what is real?

In case you didn't notice, I often start blog entries with questions? While there are no right or wrong answers about these questions, perhaps because they seem like philosophical ones (and are definitely open questions as opposed to closed questions that look for definite answers--such as 'how old are you?')--perhaps they are so open as to invite any dialogical discourse, still I hope they are interesting questions that will help to guide my discussion.

In addition to writing my poetry, I am also currently writing my novel. It is a first draft process--but I find myself belaboring the points, wondering about it, and sometimes even dreaming about it and the characters and what they are doing. I mention it in this blog (as opposed to my sister blog On the Narrow Ridge which is supposed to be the blog about my novels) because my writing no matter what the medium or genre (poetry vs. fiction vs. film) all have the same preponderances about reality in the expression of what is being said or written in the narrative.

By a discussion of reality or succintly, 'of what is real'--I hope to capture what I mean here. For that is precisely the problem--there is a translation issue here and sometimes a lost in translation issue. I know what my characters are thinking, or I try to think how I would think, or when I am enjoying someone else's work, I think: how does another author's artistic expression impact me? (Whether I am reading, listening to, or viewing art). I ponder: Is it not only beliveable, credible, and still fantastic as much in love with life and human experience as I am? Does it reasonate with me? For my work, do my characters or my poems describe human feelings in a way that they as readers can identify with? Is it real?

Sometimes even though I have this knowing that I am pointing to or referring to something that I seem to be grappling with in the dark as I am writing, when I sit down and write the words, and when I try to capture or show the feeling in what the words say or the characters are doing (say in poetry vs, fiction writing), it does not seem at all to sample the fuller emotional reality onto the paper, or into the description and story as much as I would like. It may be as basic as the fact that words and emotions are different even though we have many words in human vocabulary that describe emotions or raises affect. Yest I suppose also that part of this is the technique (say what skills I possess as a writer) at that moment, what is being crafted, and in that regard, it is the artist's fault more than anyone else's if that does not occur. Of course it can also be the reader or the audience factor here, they don't perceive it the same way or aren't able to due to a distraction or something else going on for them subjectively that intereferes. The latter point where the audience 'misses it' is not my focus in today's entry.

I don't think artists miss it in the same way as an audience might, as artists as active creators of what they are attempting to create and hence perceive as they do so, are or should be aware of our keen responsibility to be more aware of how we are trying to share the expression of spontaneous creation while still allowing it become real. That is a murky sentence but I mean it to be specific as it reads.

I have an idea sometimes when I sit down to write a poem, or when I am writing a novelization scene about what is being conveyed there, yet as I interact with what is actually flowing from the pen or the keyboard onto the computer screen, it doesn't often feel like it is coming out the way I truly want it to. Perhaps it takes some shading or reworking to get it there, yes? And yes, artists are sentimental lots who are often disappointed in themselves, their efforts, or when they are not, it is a rare moment when it flowed so well that I did not notice that I was doing something but the chracters or the words and emotion was so real it just flows out from what is being done at the moment in the work. At least this is the way it is for me sometimes. Sometimes in poetry writing for example, it is only the emotion that I am most aware of, only, when I am writing. But poetry writing more than straight fiction or novelizations or sceenwriting is very different from these other kinds of writing also in terms (less defined linearly) of how to make it morer real, or to allow it to be real. IN poetry it always seems more emotion to me than in fiction writing. IN novels can I allo wthe same sort of emotional expression, or at least more4 real expression that seems visceral? Can we do that even if it destroys our outline? heheheh There are times when the reality of what has flowed has changed the outcome markedly than what we had preconceived. This is essential I think to making it more real.

The gap is like this. If I imagine being a painter. I have an idea of what I will paint, but sometimes the result after I do the painting is a disappointment or hopefully, even a pleasant surprise.

To me the most real is what has flowed spontaneously, but what if it isn't what I think best serves the purpose? Perhaps a revision will capture it? At some point I will have to say it is good enough. N0ow in writing a first draft oir initial draft I don't hav ethe time to do such conscious revisions, but astill want to find this allowance for emotional reality. Saying it is conscious while allowing a spontaneous outpouring of it does seem deceptive as to what might actually be happening.

Tonight I saw a snippet of an interview on the Fox Movie Channel. They were interviewing a filmmaker. Reitman who has made a recent hit film called "Juno". Now I haven't seen the film yet, but you can bet I will. What struck me was something that he said, it seems simple, but what he stated was that the most important things that happened in the movie as the storytelling unfolded, was the improtance of having the characters be real.

Often I get stuck in my writing with wooden characters, over description, and character statements or actions (behaviors) that don't seem real or spontaneous. Reitman reminded me to just allow the characters to be real. For example, I have just written a scene in my novel, where one of the protagonists (there are at least several), loses his best friend in an act of martyrdom designed to save him from being caught by the authorities while trying to escape. The best friend gives up his own life to save a friend. Wow. How does this act of scarifice and martyrdom help my characters, make them sad, maybe they don;t hav etime to be sad now becaus ethey are being chased by authorites, but perhaps this sacrifice inspires them to persevere in the friend's name and honor while still causing a great sorrow. Hence they are struck by this, the importance of what they are doing (that the friend would give up his life over it), and the reality that that event strikes them in a complex and yet, basically human way.

I must remember to allow the characters this important way of being. To just be, and to be real.

Let's see what happens the next time I get stuck in the writing. I can ask: what would this be like and how might they act? How would it be really? Can I conjecture with reality, perhaps if I have developed the character in question, or am choosing now to show the character's human qualities in amore pronounced manner.

In any regard, I look forward to the work with more desire and appreciation than before.

happy writing--tim

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