Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

Exciting Things Sometimes Do Happen.

I began writing 'Octavia E. Butler' thinking that I could make the majority if it last as an extended conversation, wherein the character stands in a room and tells what has befallen him or her. Generally speaking, I'm not a fan of the form, and to be honest, that was the attraction to me.

One of the things I really enjoy as a writer is playing with forms, and discovering the ways you can twist things, to see what kind of results you get, and how much mileage that they'll give you. In the larger scale of things, I might have to admit that it is exactly this that attracts me to writing short fiction, since while I enjoy it, it has never had the same space in my head that novels do. Some writers I know are the other way, and that's cool--it's not a judgement kind of thing--but I've always been a fan of space. Give me some length, give me some room, and I'm happy enough (though there are times when the constraints are also good--some times having a word length constraint, or a narrative constraint, works more to your favour than not). But back on short fiction, I notice that these days, the pieces I get into are the ones that allow me to try something that I haven't done structurally before, the ones that fit the story idea best. Taking the story I'm working on at the moment--which may or may not be titled as people please--I've had it in my head for years, since Butler herself died. I was doing some of the early Dead American stories then, and I thought she would make an interesting POV, and also because I had admired her so. Also, by then I had by then done two white males, Johnny Cash and John Wayne, and I had said all about I needed to say there. Indeed, I thought Butler herself made a good foil for Wayne and the piece that had him in it. Somewhere along the line, Katrina imagery got connected in my head.

It sat there, however, unable to shift forward until I had a firmer idea of what I wanted to do structurally. It was always going to be something that was narrated, and I toyed with the idea of doing it in the form of a transcript, then, briefly, as a spoken word piece that would actually be performed. Of course, reality got in the way there. I'm not the best performer when it comes to reading work--I do a lot better when I don't have a text to go from--and, perhaps more importantly, I don't have the equipment to make it work, much less find a way to get it to people. As with the brief moment when I considered writing a radio play (don't we all?), I had to put that idea aside, and admit that it might take a little more disposable income and time than I have right now. Eventually, I came to that idea of narrating in a room, but as of last week, I realised that it wasn't working, and some five thousand words into a draft, I've gone back and started rewriting everything to a different form. There is still that sense of being talked too, but it's different now, and I've taken up addressing the reader with 'you', which is sure to win over people, being as anything that touches second person has people jump for joy and tell you it is awesome. either way, the change still allows for the story to keep its intertextuality, and even to engage in a low form of fictiocriticism, and that's the important part here.

I am aware, actually, that as I write this, no one will have any idea what the fuck I'm on about, not really. I've no desire to share with you the ugly drafts, the words in progress, as they are called, and without them, I guess it really just looks like I'm muttering to myself publicly about things that matter to me.

Dick Jokes later, I promise.


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