Archive for April, 2010


Ideas Are Never the Problem

I have not been able to write. Not to any effect. I have ideas, ideas are never the problem. Rather, ideas are exactly the problem: they keep me awake at night, sabotage my attempts to capture them, rebel against me on the page.

So I cut them into pieces, all of them, of random length. I shuffled the scraps and wrote from the incoherence. I formed them into airplanes, into doves and cranes, and into more abstract shapes, into prisms, tetrahedrons, dodecahedrons, into shapes completely irregular or even open. I rolled them like dice and obeyed their promptings. I built them into structures, into cities of the impossible.

All this alchemy and what did I expect? I suppose, it is shameful, but I hoped for some kind of glimpse, as if divinely inspired, of a story, any, that has not been written a thousand times before. And yes, at the seventieth hour of work without sleep, I could see it all, epiphanies so ecstatic, shapes and voices in the fog. Twelve hours later, I woke up to a rat’s nest floor of tedious, embarrassing garbles.

Give me collisions that create something new, the architectures of London, the products of a large hadron collider. I want to write a story that is a palimpsest, that is a crowd of voices that speak at once, that is simultaneously all the other stories it might have been.

Here is a skyline with the remnants of its centuries rammed together, the original text is there, some places faded away, others with addenda in the margins, others with red text atop the lines. I live in the model of the story I cannot write.

Give me imperfections waiting to be scratched out, errors worked into their own resolutions, reflections and shadows falling onto neighbouring shapes and changing them. And look at these people, so close in their passings by, only poetically apart—I want to pluck on those distances like the strings of a cello. I want to hear so much competing music of this sort that accidental melodies will form out of their clashing, and all the better if these moments arise just briefly, veering away into the reservoir of noise, like an organism in its gene pool. I want you—the whispers I hear just barely above the crashing of your colours, smells and movements—a conversation unperformed yet glimpsed at in the lazy meandering of topics. I want the near miss, the thing that can’t be captured, the aspect of a dream, that when the dream is done, is the only part that lingers.