Saturday, July 9, 2016

A Rose Among Carrots

The origin of the title of this post will be discovered below.

I’ve been sedulously at a new book, which I hope to have out in a couple of weeks. The working title is Throw Lines.  I’m being reminded of what an arduous, pitiless process is the editing, at times oblique and haphazard, at times serendipitous, subliminally methodical, and often a grind.
My m.o. is blunt. I collect a bunch of blog posts for the first draft of the book. Then, I take that first draft and begin to edit. The first cut is the easiest. Trimming fat.  Like being at a butcher shop. After the first cut, which is sentimental and panoramic, subsequent cuts will be targeted and increasingly merciless. 

Every day at work is not a great day. Over the years I’ve learned not to curl up in a ball with anxiety when things aren’t going well and I realize my life has been a failure. I take it in stride now. And I’ve developed a capacity to fearlessly unlove certain favorite sequences, or poems, or lines, or words.

And while working on the book I’m still creating sequences, too, and wondering whether to submit any to literary magazines, two or three of which I could shoot stuff off to right now. But because the format I use is not instantly classified or compartmentalized: I feel like I’d have to explain things, and if you have to explain it, well...So I may just use them in more blog posts, thus maintaining control of my own destiny.

I’ll wipe the blood off and post some outtakes from the abattoir in days to come. 

And during that process, there are some otherwise splendid titles that lose their content to the red pencil and the delete button. Here are some of them.


Shop talk:

Always needing to keep current on street cred as an English littérateur, I needed to read Anthony Trollope.  I have smart friends with college degrees who’ve not this popular Victorian novelist read, but I recently received encouragement and so went to Barchester Towers.

Trollope is a satirist, a genial story teller and a bit of a farceur in describing the countryside folk, clerical, insulated, time-stifled.  Somebody on Facebook recently described it perfectly I wished I’d saved that, something about the Trollope’s dark hideous characters made to seem amusing and befuddled.

So here are Kindle Klips of some of my favorite parts of the novel:

This was about an elderly church official nearing the end of his life:  “A month since, the physicians had named four weeks as the outside period during which breath could be supported within the body of the dying man. At the end of the month the physicians wondered, and named another fortnight. The old man lived on wine alone, but at the end of the fortnight he still lived.”

My ears perked up at this bit of dialogue:  "Well, my love; ha—hum—he!"

A nice description of party arrivals:  “And then the guests came in shoals...”

This is an astonishing description of a man and the woman he was smitten with:  “Mr. Slope was big, awkward, cumbrous, and, having his heart in his pursuit, was ill at ease. The lady was fair, as we have said, and delicate; everything about her was fine and refined; her hand in his looked like a rose lying among carrots, and when he kissed it, he looked as a cow might do on finding such a flower among her food.” [The bolding is me.]

And finally a little more about the woman: “She was all in her glory, and looked so pathetically happy, so full of affliction and grace, was so beautiful, so pitiable, and so charming that it was almost impossible not to be glad she was there.”  (Dostoevsky can reach these heights, too!)

Well, my break is over. Back to work.

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