Monday, October 20, 2014

Rowing Home

"For a true writer each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed. How simple the writing of literature would be if it were only necessary to write in another way what has been well written. It is because we have had such great writers in the past that a writer is driven far out past where he can go, out to where no one can help him." - Ernest Hemingway

For some reason this quote (from Hemingway's Nobel Prize speech) has always made me think of the book, The Old Man and the Sea. In the book, a Cuban fisherman rows way out beyond where most of the other fisherman go, and in turn ends up rowing home with the catch of a lifetime. Near home, the fish gets torn to pieces by sharks, but the memories remain.

Although many commentaries over the years have tried to find deeper allegories in the novella, the one allegory I never hear about is the act of writing. For example, the fisherman could be seen as the writer, the story could be the fish, and the voyage home could be the process of editing or dealing with critics.

In light of that, the last line of the quote above takes on a different meaning. Like fishing, sometimes writing a unique novel involves traveling "further out" into waters that are not as familiar. It may also mean that it is more difficult or even impossible to get assistance if the idea is too unique.

With every novel (and some short stories) I've written, I've often attempted to "row out" beyond where anyone else is at, for better or for worse. I'm not sure why I do this, but this is also the case for the Chronopticus Chronicles trilogy. Only time will tell if I even came close to succeeding what I originally envisioned. The final book in the series has proved to be the most difficult to complete due to its complexity, themes, and many other factors. In some ways it is one of the most complicated books I have ever written, and getting the ending chapters "right" is proving to be very difficult.

Whatever the finished product looks like, I know it will still fall short of my expectations despite my best efforts. Soon, however, the boat will be in dock again, and the "catch" unloaded. In the end, I hope somebody gets something out of it and that it doesn't become "garbage waiting to go out with the tide".

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