Monday, February 01, 2010

The Quest


Not very fecund just now, I'm afraid. Just back from a weekend with 78 weans in St Andrews and everytime I look at a computer screen or a blank page all I see is rabbits. I've left Mac the rabbit up against the side of a cave about to be devoured by a zombie and do not have the energy to rescue him just yet. I do think, in order to save myself from another sequel, that the entire cast list should be slaughtered by the last chapter. This is a tactic I adopted once before in the great unpublished novel where all the protaginists fall down a mineshaft in the last chapter.


I was thinking the other day of the exact point when you stop/give up on a piece and decide it's either finished or unfinishable. Is there such a moment? In the answer to another post I was remembering a teacher at my old school who was, I think, a poet of outstanding quality, but who was obsessed with perfection to the extent that he became stuck on a single poem for years and ultimately stopped writing because that degree of perfection eluded him. When do you call a stop? Or do you?

9 comments:

Rachel Fox said...

I have very little patience in some ways so if something isn't working I put it away and only get it back out again if/when I feel I'm ready to tackle it anew.

And I'm confused...are you writing Watership Down or something? And the other one sounded like a folk song...

And as you are one of the very best performers of poetry and storytelling I have ever seen...you should be out talking to people (in my opinion) not spending hours writing novels. Stages, man, to the stages!

x

shug said...

It's my charity work.A book written for Mossburn Animal Centre, or rather a sequel to the best selling 'Mac the rabbit'.
I've been storytelling all weekend. Sick of it. But thanks very much for compliment.

Do you know, when you put the unfinished poem away, that it's still got prospects? Mine are alive or dead within 48 hours, with very few exceptions.

Titus said...

I fear I'm a churner. If it's not done in 2 or 3 days maximum, it's never going to happen. That might, of course, explain a lot...

As to the rabbit - I can help with some very vivid slaughterhouse scenes, should you require.

Agree with Rachel paragraph 3 above. Possibly not quite as good as my recent Brownies performance, but then again...

Rachel Fox said...

Do I know if something still has prospects when I put it away? No...but sometimes suddenly a light will switch on later (even years later) and I'll think 'ha! that's what I can do with that!' Or, less dramatically, it might just show up somewhere in another piece and I'll think 'oh...there you are, I'd forgotten about you'.

Titus - you're still in the Brownies? Can you get the uniform to fit?

x

Titus said...

Only at my fighting weight of eleven and a half stone.

Sorlil said...

I rarely abandon a poem completely, either bring it to a satisfactory completion or unsatisfactory completion. The latter may be pillaged for future poems. Though I have plenty segments of poems that have just not found their meaning yet and it's hard to know if they ever will, they sit in my poetry notes document and any new gathered material- lines / images etc is tried against them to see if they'll make sense of them.

willow said...

It's amazing what putting a piece away for a few days can do. Tweaks just leap out. I forever putter on pieces, although not as obsessively as your former teacher. If you happen to read one on my blog, it might be ever-so-slightly changed on your return.

hope said...

If I can't "get it right" but there's something about it that won't let me delete it altogether, I put it away.

Sometimes it's years later before I pull it back out. If there was any hope in it, I'll find it then. Some of the best stuff I did was when I gave it a rest, then revisited. Remember that MIA bracelet story, where in the end I gave the braclet back to the Capt.'s son? I wrote the original 15 years before, but it still wasn't right. I'm glad I held on to it.

Otherwise I give it a decent burial. Do you have a floral preference? ;)

Stooshie said...

Who was the teacher-poet? I find the easiest way to solve the problem of how best to satisfactorily conclude a poem or short story is never to start it in the first place. This saves much emotional soul-wringing & technical mithering, & leaves you all that time to go to a pub & drink ten pints of good wholesome beer before waking up next morning in a fug & not writing a poem about it. Voila! Problem solved!