The Sunday Index - 4.28.19
Make the Way by Going
I’ve gotten very little writing done over the last week. Partially it’s been because I’m moving apartments (see: the bag purge) and partially I’m in the planning stages for something.
I guess I should be more specific about what I have and haven’t written. I have written a lot of plans, loose outlines and scattered notes here and there, character studies plus very literal lists of names. So while I have not written STORY PROSE regularly this past week, I have written. Now not only do I feel better, but anyone reading this who is also a writer can understand what it means to not write, for me. Sometimes not writing means doing a lot of writing, of very specific sorts.
Related, in this Granta article Elizabeth Cook references an Antonio Machado poem, comparing the novelist to a character in said poem. She uses the phrase: “The novelist…has to make the way by going.” It's a great line, one that gave me a lot of forward momentum and undoubtedly will on future days when I'm struggling to make writing happen.
Another related article over here on Lit Hub, this one by Michael Croley, talks about the time it takes to achieve your dream.
A younger me might have considered the wait, the length of time, a failure, a half-measure even, but not the writer that opened up a box of his books last week and marveled at the cover and the blurbs and pages inside that constitute a life’s work. I have been reading and writing very seriously for half of my life and I don’t know if I could get where I want to in another three lifetimes. What you learn with age is to make peace with that and to let the ambition and passion you first forge as a young person not ever die. If you can, try not to let it ever cool, but life will take you on its path. Your job is to keep yourself between the ditches, to do as little harm as you can to those you love and yourself, to write the story, poem, or essay that only you can write.
This writing life is often plodding. One foot in front of the other, so to speak, through deep mud and in the dark, it seems. You can only find your way by walking—working—moving toward the sun no matter how far ahead the horizon seems."
I did in fact see Avengers: Endgame yesterday - it’s already crossed the billion dollar mark - and likely any thoughts I have on it will end up in an episode of Hideous Energy very soon. Right now I’ll say that as far as storytelling goes, whatever your opinions of superheroes and specifically Disney and/or Marvel may be, it’s hard to deny the achievement of creating a cohesive film universe, basically exactly like an ongoing TV show (kind of like an actual comic), over the course of 10 years or so.
Bill Kenower interviewed John Lanchester - who’s been mentioned once here already - and Lanchester sort of jokingly says he’s sometimes thought about criticism being a massive waste of time. Not his words exactly, and I do recommend you watch the whole interview because it’s a good one, but yeah. I’m with you sometimes on that Mr. Lanchester.
Chiefly that whole section of the interview hit me because he talks about how if a piece of art - in his case he specifies novels, but I think it applies to all art, really - generates discussion or even argument, that means it’s alive. Notice how he never says “good” or “bad” and in fact steers clear of those qualifiers entirely.
Anyway, hearing a crowd cry - at one point a kid was sobbing - and cheer, along with gasp and clap to comic book characters on the screen, that really made me think more about the idea of stories being alive. And it’s a great non-review kind of review of Avengers: Endgame.
My story Mars Calls for WAR! is up now, with yet another illustration by Luca Vassallo, this one even better than the first, surprisingly. He captured the feel of it perfectly. It's a blast to work with him, and I'm ready for everyone to experience more of what we're working on. Please read it, please share it, and please let me know if you dug it or have thoughts on what I’m doing with the story, or even with these blog posts.
Go read Aggressive Goose Season too. It’s connected to Mars Calls for WAR! albeit somewhat loosely at this point. Their world will only get smaller as more of my and Luca's plans come together. If you read them both you can probably guess a few places the story will end up. But there are plenty of surprises left too.
Enjoy your life and enjoy some art. Next week!