Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

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Welcome to Early Morning Thoughts


I've reached the point where I'm talking about my book as I write it and there's no-one round to email insanely, so it'll have to go here.

When I was writing 26lies, I had these huge conversations with Deb Layne (deborahlive) going, which must have driven her up the wall, but like the fine publisher she is, she kept talking to me, letting me talk the book out and out. There's a line, in fact, in a Raymond Carver story, called 'Why Don't You Dance', in which the young woman in the story is telling her friends what she's seen, and Carver says that she's trying to talk it out, or something similar (I don't have the book with my at the moment, so if I'm wrong, there you go). That line always struck me as one of those personal little epiphanies, because I'm a lot like that: I like to talk things out until they make sense. All kinds of things, really. Books, short stories, girls, food, whatever, y'know? Some times I think that the things I write are nothing more than an expression of that, an extended, composed version of my talking something out, and shaped into a narrative so I can work resolutions and answers in, if I come up with any.

Of course, a lot of authors I know, they don't talk things out. They keep them pinned up inside, waiting until they're formed to show the world, or afraid that someone else might take their idea, and use it.

It's a fair enough in both cases. In the former case, I can understand not wanting to talk the half formed idea out, and later, when it is fully there, there comes a time when you need to be quiet, because if you're busy talking a story out, why write it? You've told it then, go off and write something new. As for being protective of your ideas, that's all well and good, though for me, I just figure ideas are, as the Americans say, a dime a dozen. Plus, every idea I have has been used by someone somewhere, so I don't see the point. Personal choice, that, for, to me what makes a piece of fiction work is the author, the way he or she spins the idea, the voice he or she uses, the verve that he or she has. Originality comes from the pattern of thought within the author, not the one high concept idea. Or, at least, that's what I figured a while back, and I've never much seen any idea to go back and change it.

Anyhow: this is long winded.

What I'm thinking about today is violence. It's an important conversation in Across the Seven Continents of the Underworld, perhaps unsurprisingly, given the introduction that I posted a few days back, but what I'm thinking, lately, what I'm thinking, is how I can make every moment of violence carry a weight to it, and yet not be caught up in that emo argument you have about how wrong it is. Don't get me wrong--I'm not a fan of violence, and I don't want to have a narrative that is supportive of the casual, effortless deaths that are the background noise of so many books and films. I've never had a huge problem with works that do that. In fact, I've enjoyed more than a few. But I don't find it very interesting to casually kill seven people and not have it so much as appear as a blip on the inside of a person's mind. To do that, somehow, and at the very least in this piece of work, feels as if I'm short changing one of the thematic elements of the book, and further, it creates a tonal inconsistency. The downside, however, is it makes things a lot more difficult: how do you justify the deaths of guards, then, when you know, through endless amounts of narratives, that guards are an anonymous point of violence, a nothing but sharp crack, burst of a bullet, slice with a knife, the representation in the book of the author making a the short, sharp cut to remove the plot obstacle for his or her character?

This is what I'm thinking about right now. It's a thought in my cluttered head. A problem to be solved. Maybe it doesn't make any sense to you. Maybe it's not even interesting. That's how it is sometimes, I guess.
Tags: acrossthesevencontinentsoftheunderworld
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