narrative allure

Or; the cause and solution to all my problems and a conceit about weaving.

I’ve been consuming stories before bedtime. I know I shouldn’t. I know this from my attempts to read before bed, but I really need to cut myself off from narrative media of all kinds after 8 p.m. [File under: promises I’m unlikely to keep.]

While the Phillies have been on a west coast swing, we’ve been spending the usual evening baseball time binge-watching Murdoch Mysteries, which turns into a game of just one-more-episode chicken. This is also one of the difficulties with post-cable television consumption: sometimes, an awesome person introduces you to a show and there are eight seasons immediately available. I’m not made of stone.

Murdoch has lasted me since January, though, so I don’t feel too badly about watching 2-3 episodes in the place where sports usually go. The problem is the hamster wheel of what-happens-next, not to mention the adrenaline rush of my inevitable overzealous emotional attachment to the characters, clattering up against imagination when I’m supposed to be sleeping. What I don’t know yet becomes the weft for the taut warp of what I do, and my brain simply wants to weave.

As a person trying to go to sleep, this is sometimes problematically amusing, especially because I want to put everything on the same loom. Exhibit A: George Crabtree definitively buying Wonder Woman’s story (because we went to see Wonder Woman last night) and trying to convince Inspector Brackenreid of the veracity of her circumstance. (My brain contains one multiverse. Crossover everything.)

As a fiction writer, narrative allure is the chief reason I write. As Joan Didion so famously put it, “Let me tell you one thing about why writers write: had I known the answer to any of these questions I would never have needed to write a novel.” (I’ve trotted that quote out here before, but it remains true.) There’s another version of that allure that motivates me: writing the book I want to read, the thing that doesn’t exist yet but that I’ve wanted to read all along. Those two motivations are firmly linked for me, and they’re both terribly personal. No one can help me answer the questions, and I certainly don’t want anyone telling me what I want to read, and I’m trebly on the hook for actually getting the work done—no one else is going to do the weaving.

Sometimes, too, one is Penelope before the loom, undoing the day’s work, or, in my own case, often the past year’s work. Or more. Let’s not talk about that.

But that allure still remains: if I have to undo most of a draft—and thus take back the answer to those questions—the questions remain. Sometimes the questions change, but there are still questions that need answers, characters who are set in motion and whose outcomes still spark curiosity. I’m still writing the book I want to read, and that still feels good.

And Writer Camp helps. More about Writer Camp later.


One thought on “narrative allure

  1. I like the idea of writing the book you want to read. I love horror, easily my favorite genre, but I haven’t read or watched a movie that’s satisfied what I love about the genre. And here I am working on a horror novel that fills that void I’ve been feeling. I’ve also found myself in several projects lately that involve creating groups and events to provide a connection in my local literary community where I’ve long felt this same type of void. Anyway, your post spoke to me today as I contemplate how I’m creating these things that I want in my life.
    Lovely post, Holly.


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