This here is Margaret Atwood. This here is a link to an essay you should read.
And if you’ve read that, my job is done here.
Assuming you haven’t (yet) or have but want to know why I posted it here, it’s because I want to talk about writing (as Jeylan has pointed out, that might be a focus of this here blog). In particular, I want to talk about how to get from one place to the next. In the particular particular, I want to talk about how to get from the beginning of a novel to the end of it.
Actually, in fact, I don’t want to talk about that, as that’s what I’m failing to do in my current long-term project, the first major revision of GOD’S TEETH.
But Atwood, oh Atwood, she presents how that problem, the getting from here to there, is the only problem in writing novels. In her essay, she points out that plots are a dime a dozen. Distill anything to less than fifty words and vagueness overwhelms you — everything begins to sound the same. But take any dime-store plot (Novel ideas! Dime a Dozen!) and stretch it out into a story or, if you have the stamina for it, a novel, and it becomes a unique tale, personalized by you, by every choice you made along the way, every descriptive phrase, every tiny detail of the landscape or of a character.
What I’m doing with GOD’S TEETH is revising. The beginning and the end — the plot, as it were — is all there. I’m stuck in the middle. “True connoisseurs […],” Atwood says, “are known to favor the stretch in between, since it’s the hardest to do anything with. ”
Sure, I agree with her, but notice that last phrase of hers.
“… it’s the hardest to do anything with.”
Ah, yes. Thanks, Margaret. Thanks for ending on a high note there.