Sunday, September 10, 2006

Riding the Rail

I deeply adore the written word (the topic of my last handful of entries here), and have been devouring it since it first began resolving to more than unintelligible patterns of ink on otherwise useful paper. My self-guided literary tour has wandered through landscapes both familiar and foreign, instructing me in the authors' visions of humanity and grand concourses of "what-if."

And for now, I can't touch a drop. I've had to let it alone, cold turkey. I may take an occasional whiff from some technical resource or retelling of current events, but the good, hard prose is off-limits.

If I ingest any of it now, I fear I'll begin unconsciously incorporating themes or elements into my own work: an unintentional homage, and perhaps dilution of the originality of my own material. Enough of it is in my system on a permanent basis that this is already a concern, with my only hope that I might be objective enough either during composition or review to recognize and tease out the hidden sources. Make them talk, and give them either due credit, or the boot.

Films aren't safe either. I once became so engrossed in the A&E mini-series production of Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice that all my email for the following two days carried the tone and grammar of 18th century snobbery.

The last book I let myself (re)read was Frank Herbert's Dune. Even from nearly two months away I can still smell its influence on my brainstorming, though I'm confident my well-conditioned averse reaction to its presence ensures that the offending particles are screened out by the time I've struck the concept onto paper.

This self-editing is a worrisome process in its own right. The taint of another's creativity may not be independently original, representing instead additional facets to timeless memes and archetypes. The coincidence with my efforts may be just that simple of a relationship and therefore not meritorious of exclusion. Then again, I might not be able to tell the difference - and by my strict avoidance of commingled appearance end up etching an anti-novel, as much defined by its circumvention of something as would have been the case were I to abandon the censorship.

I live a good life that this topic occupies my mind enough to spend time displaying it here. Or, this could be a farcical charade and I'm lying to us both.

Assuming the former, I'm stuck in dry-country until the novel has enough support under its frame that I can resume my indulgence (in moderation) without compromising. Dedicated to the proposition of completing the work, unable to deviate. Fixed, as it were, to the unbending course of a rail to its end.

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