Friday, November 13, 2015

The Blank Page: Or, The Death of a Novel

A Blank Page

Auld Bill Faulkner is famous for pronouncing capital punishment upon darlings... insofar as writing is concerned. I will not endeavor here to discuss that any further since I am a firm believe in letting others discuss what has been discussed. My interest is in something else, a sort of euthanasia of darlings.

For a few weeks now, Hagengard Studio has been a scene of grim resolve, like a ship that lists too much and is caught in the doldrums. The only thing good about it is that it was cold so we weren't sweltering under a sun that didn't seem to move. Grey, with indeterminate fog, a lodestone lost long ago, we knew that there was a Jonah on board.

David brought this Jonah on the ship a long time ago, before I had signed on (in the ludicrous extension of this already exhausted metaphor, I might as well talk about dead sea-birds). Its name was The Shadow Well and while I attempted to help with the novel somewhat, there was simply too much that had to be changed. Again.

That was the crucial problem. The text had been reworked over 3 times before I even saw it, and here is an interesting problem: like an archaeologist, I could delve beneath the many layers and see existing fossils of writing. The stray em-dash? Yes, that's was 2008 when David was rereading Ulysses. There were other remnants, such as the name 'Karen' which I saw popping in and out of earlier drafts. There was even a passage that referred to a time when it was set in Seattle, and I learned it began at the Edgewater.

The novel has moved around, attempting to find a narrative, but the problem as I saw it was the protagonist. I was not the protagonist of this novel, if that is what you suspect. I played only a minor supporting role and even then, I came in somewhat late in the game. There was not much I could do. I believe David plans on exorcising this protagonist in ways other than on the page, which is a good thing because the individual wasn't very interesting.

David and I ultimately arrived at a business decision.  Promotion and return upon investment did not seem lucrative enough for this novel. We agreed there were parts (mostly mine) that were intriguing enough to salvage for other work. His illustrations may find homes elsewhere. For those who have met Trudi von Hippe, Theresa Darl and Kanute Eldredsohn, do not worry. They will be back.

I often chide David on this blog and those with whom I privately correspond get a more highly seasoned version of that discourse, but if I am somewhat acerbic, it is because I care. I believe he will post something on that Tumblr of his that will go into more detail. I know this decision was not easy for him and I'm leaving him the last word on this topic.

So you will not be seeing The Shadow Well on the shelves of any bookstore in February, or for that matter, any which when. We have filled in that well. (I did find the title entrancing enough to use for one of my poems).

What does this mean for Hagengard Studio? It is almost time for the turn of the sun and a return to basics: short fiction and the proetic graphic essay as the main outlets—this blog is often an example of the latter. David will work on his artwork some more. There are some classes at Hugo House worth looking at which is fitting since that is where David and I first met when we were starting our creative careers over the first time.

So it is a return to blank pages, which is like a new sail: perfect for a strong wind and clear skies.

No comments:

Post a Comment