Monday, May 04, 2009

the revision game

Today’s task: Find the Narrator of Twelve Sections of Karen-Stories

What keeps this story from gelling into ONE story? Excuses:

1. The narrator is fuzzy because I was an innocent bystander and I was dumb, during the action of the story. (Not likely.)

2. Each section of this larger set of pieces has a different narrator, different tone, different tense for writing because I am Just That Many People. It is fragmented because I am fragmented. (Hmmm. Excuse. That's definitely an excuse that lets me off the hook of working at this project.)

3. There is no consistent narrator because I am such a wallflower that I simply disappear into the scenery. (Fun idea. But not reality.)

4. The narrator is all over the place in the 51 pages because I don’t yet know what I need to know. In Vivian Gornick’s terms, I’ve described and developed the situation: I worked with a magnificent and magnificently-broken woman for one year. But I don’t yet know the whole story: what happened, back there? What happened to me? What part of the story is ultimately mine?

Already I’ve learned while writing: she was more savage than she appeared, more self-serving and furious than I could’ve known at the time. This new knowledge doesn’t diminish how generous and warm Karen was, nor her strange ability to be both demanding and endearing, intensely, at the same time. I know the odd circumstances that brought us together, but what really drew us together? What did I need from her that she fulfilled so well?

The blind woman saw me, and took me seriously—I know that. I need to know more. Will I know more before this section of my thesis is due? Probably not. I’m just beginning to understand how long it takes for the writing process to work me over—it really is “the story” working on me, as I allow it. I turn the puzzle pieces over and over, for months, for a year, for more than a year. The story bothers me and nags at me and makes no sense whatsoever. Again.

What a beautiful hassle this is.

No comments: