Thursday, August 30, 2012

Heart Shovel.

There is an exhilarating dread that accompanies an editor's request of an author that he explain himself. The exhilaration, of course, comes with the implication that your work made enough of an impression so as to cause a momentary halt in the editor's process of feeding human hearts into the wood chipper beneath his desk; the dread comes with having now to account for what you've done. The editor wants to be sure you were not in the throes of a schizophrenic episode when you wrote what you wrote; he wants to be sure you've made some sense.

Obviously he is not sure. Like you are not sure. You are playing poker with invisible cards.

Well-- have you? Made sense? Maybe the reason you did what you did is because it is a shadow form of the truth; it lurks at the periphery of your being, unobservable. Some people are of the opinion that an author's themes are intentional like breathing oxygen is intentional; I agree with that, particularly because sometimes I don't find the hairpin turns of the psyche are well-suited to be traveled by cumbersome vehicles of intellect. So I find that explanation conveniently suits my aversion to dissecting a thing.

Nonetheless, things need dissected. It's how we learn. And so I am wondering if it's a valid question to ask an artist, "What is this?" If you read something and it blows your hair back, do you need it explained? Do you want it explained? I like ambiguity; I crave ambiguity. I crave cracks in meaning big enough to fit a bedroll into so I can spend the night in there. So much of the short fiction that I love is impressionistic and strange and vibrant and deliriously focused, in its own peculiar way. It is a tune you have not heard. An air sculpture. I like the towering Jenga(tm) that language can be: There is as much meaning in the collapse as there is in the construction. Also, when things fall apart, everyone laughs and it's an overall good time for the whole family.

But the editor has a task. He cannot expose his readers to the contagion of your lunacy-- he must ask! And when he asks, I pose the question to myself, because I want to send this story out there into the world. And so, the exhilaration and the dread. I second guess my craft. The editor only stops shoveling for so long.

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