awkwardly formal reflection on my own inability to tell a good story.

My first six months in “the real world” (i.e. outside Kenyon, or Utopia) has made me realize that I am not very good at getting to the point in my creative writing. Probably in speaking too. Euphemistically speaking: it’s the writer in me. Nothing black and white. Must conjure every statement into a rhetorical snowflake: no sentence of mine may have a twin in the universe.

I liken my condition to David Foster Wallace, who sure could “write well.” But he wrote well because of the way-in-which-he-wrote, not necessarily what-he-wrote. It compromises the reader’s ability to emphathize with characters. Franzen, by contrast, can syringe every last drop of your emotional stability out of you with his characters. He’s master of what-he-wrote. So where’s the balance? Because they’re both geniuses but, in a way, ying and yang – one has what the other lacks.

Maybe the parallel I’ve drawn between my newfound creative pragmatism and New York City is also writer’s whimsy, but I think it’s true. I think therefore I am: New York is to pragmatism as Kenyon is to floundering about in a wordy tide pool. Writing dense, syrupy prose now seems to me the equivalent of those subway door stragglers who insist on hanging halfway out of the door in a fully saturated car, like fat parakeets on a frail perch. Get out da way. I’m always the subway enter-er who goes circque du soleil to wedge under armpits and consume minimal space. And yet no one ever assumes the responsibility of scolding the parakeets. Have you ever heard anyone say, “Get out of the door lady, you’re clearly not going to fit!” Nope. Because New Yorkers know that approach is less than pragmatic; argument wastes more precious time than the cosmos signaling the lady to retreat from the front line.

All of this is to say – that I am of course joking about my creative, locational epiphany.  Here’s the point I wanted to make in sentence one:

I have never told a story start to finish. I write to create these rhetorical snowflakes, not to assume the responsibility of a plot.

So here’s what Ima do. Next few posts? All plots. Plots plots plots! It’s my challenge for 2012.  


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