?

Log in

entries friends calendar profile AT: Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn Previous Previous Next Next
There is no muse, and other unsettling principles: 3 of 6 - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
wemyss
wemyss
There is no muse, and other unsettling principles: 3 of 6
3. But ... but … if there is no muse, how ever shall I be celebrated as being original, whinge, whinge, wibble?
 
Oh, get over yourself, Mary.
 
‘Every thing that is in the intellect has been in the senses.’ And even for Mr Orwell, indeed especially for Mr Orwell, bless his bones, these windows of our senses are not plate-glass, but stained glass, or at least grisaille. What you see is personal to you, what you write shall be personal and original to you, precisely because you are an original. We are not islands, true, as the Dean of St Paul’s, one John Donne, noted; yet we are each of us, Dr Donne’s dung-making Holy-Ghost-temples formed of excremental jelly, unique. There’s not a soul on earth save me who writes as I write (for which you may all be unfeignedly thankful); no two of us should write the same story from the same prompt. This is because we are not the same people, with the same experiences and tastes, the apparatus and the same responses to the same sensory stimuli. Thank God.
 
Of course in one sense none of us ever writes anything ‘unique’ or ‘original’: could we, we could not communicate it. This is where Form comes in, not only to discipline and restrain fancy and picture and impetus, but to make this, suitably disciplined, apprehensible and understandable in a common language. Yet even were any two or three of us to use the same Form from the same prompting, the results should be markedly different. If that weren’t so, none of you should write fan-fiction, after all: think about it.
 
4. But ... but … if there is no muse, where shall I find both inspiration, though I stare with great inwardness at flowers, and Form, alas, alack?
 
Don’t be so bloody Wet. Pull your socks up.
 
Knowing as you now want to know that ‘originality’ is a snare and a delusion, and that you, being you, must necessarily be as original as you want to be, will you or nil you, it is time you recognised that the proper food of writers is words. Books. Other men’s flowers. The fact that you’re writing fan-fiction ought really to have been your first clue, here, you know. Look again at what Jack Lewis said:
 
After the pictures, came the Form. As these images sorted themselves into events (i.e., became a story) they seemed to demand no love interest and no close psychology. But the Form which excludes these things is the fairy tale. And the moment I thought of that, I fell in love with the Form itself; its brevity, its severe restraints on description, its flexible traditionalism, its inflexible hostility to all analysis, digression, reflections and ‘gas’.
 
Your material will teach you your form. And if you wish your work to have any depth, support, foundation, that ‘patina of time on things past’ that informs Hardy and Mann and Sir John, God save him, indulge your Betjemania:
 
First there is the thrilling or terrifying recollection of a place, a person or a mood which hammers inside the head saying ‘Go on! Go on! It is your duty to make a poem out of it.’ Then a line or a phrase suggests itself. Next comes the selection of a metre. I am a traditionalist in metres and I have made few experiments. The rhythms of Tennyson, Crabbe, Hawker, Dowson, Hardy, James Elroy Flecker, Moore and Hymns A & M are generally buzzing about in my brain and I choose one from these which seems to me to suit the theme....
 
It’ll deepen your work like buggery.
 


Tags: ,

5 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: October 11th, 2011 09:36 pm (UTC) (Link)

"Oh, get over yourself, Mary."

Whoa. If that doesn't make a girl feel forty years younger! Takes one back to Royal Ballet seasons back in the spacious, gracious Sixties...
wemyss From: wemyss Date: October 13th, 2011 02:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes, well.

One does drop the occasional hairpin for effect.

And you were all of what, two years in age, then?
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: October 13th, 2011 03:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

"...two years in age, then?"

Nope, I was a teenager effective 12 May 1962. I am, as the poetess said, older than a boat, and there can be no folly in owning it.
From: optasia Date: October 12th, 2011 09:29 am (UTC) (Link)
‘Every thing that is in the intellect has been in the senses.’ And even for Mr Orwell, indeed especially for Mr Orwell, bless his bones, these windows of our senses are not plate-glass, but stained glass, or at least grisaille. What you see is personal to you, what you write shall be personal and original to you, precisely because you are an original. We are not islands, true, as the Dean of St Paul’s, one John Donne, noted; yet we are each of us, Dr Donne’s dung-making Holy-Ghost-temples formed of excremental jelly, unique. There’s not a soul on earth save me who writes as I write (for which you may all be unfeignedly thankful); no two of us should write the same story from the same prompt. This is because we are not the same people, with the same experiences and tastes, the apparatus and the same responses to the same sensory stimuli. Thank God.

Thank you! I needed this.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: October 13th, 2011 02:53 pm (UTC) (Link)

We all of us need this.

I write to remind myself quite as much as to instruct anyone else.
5 comments or Leave a comment