Monday, April 8, 2013

INKBLOTS Cannonballs at Poolside

A Carl metaphor for the evening
INKBLOTS Tax Time (most writers don't have to worry over much about taxes from too much income--keep your day job)

I summarized in brief a lengthy discussion I had over the last week or two with another author on story and message. We have 8 men tonight and several white wine options to share. Valuable discussion, ranging widely from cannonballs in the pool, to Mongols and Puritans, evolution and swearing in fiction.

Patrick led off with update on his graphic novel and finding a wonderful artist for it. She is not a Christian and loves the story (including the "religious elements") but thinks that Patrick is a sexist based on how he portrays women. He read the most critical moment in the story, as he feels it. Goodwin is fearless in the face of immortal forces. I love Patrick’s Job allusions. "Everyone is insane and everyone must learn... something, the name of the insanity he chooses..." Solomon allusions. Believing in nothing or believe on the Lord Jesus, but the antagonist thinks this is just another insanity, one that might give some comfort in the valley of the shadow of death but still just another madness. This is an intriguing dialogue. Goodwin is confronted with an arch critic of Jesus, who says if Jesus was here he would chop off his head and put it in a jar. Godwin unmasks the antagonist's primal hatred of Jesus and Christianity, revealing that maybe his insistence that all is insanity including Christianity is merely a smoke screen to vent his hatred of Christ. Does it need more stage direction for the visuals, since it is a graphic novel. Tim said Patrick's writing reminded him of the long passage dialogue in Perelandra, by CS Lewis. Question asked about the genre and the juxtaposing of Puritans and Mongols; can you do that in this genre? In a graphic novel you can draw people in with bazaar visuals. I think I mentioned before that Patrick's tone reminds me of Lewis's Till We Have Faces.

Adam just jumped in with reading. No prelude, no explanatory, just reading. Maybe it's because Adam is distracted with getting engaged this last week! Congratulations! They met while performing in a theater production and he proposed on a pass between Germany and Austria; they met performing in The Sound of Music! I hear theatrical in Adam's writing, sort of Agatha Christy-esque. I like how clipped and to the point your writing is developing. Didn't we sort of beat you up for affected prose before? This moves rapid pace, yet with local color. I looked around the room at the others. I don't think one of us wanted Adam to stop reading. This is a good sign. A daft old gentleman, and a married couple, oddly and variously matched. All set in the context of cemetery caretakers, or is it undertakers. Characters all odd ducks. Why were the people doing what they are doing. Harold and Maud film, Carl brings this up. Cat Stevens in it, hearse, love with a woman 60 years his senior. Clean prose, vivid description, but rapid pace for the tale. Intriguing crime fiction underway. This feels like a fiction triumph underway. Funeral talk ensued.

John Schrupp tells about Pastor Carl's first funeral service. Funeral for a septic tank. Carl still training for the marathon--brutal training in the rain and after the eating of Easter.

Shane got a piece published on So that's good success. He wrote a speech for SeaPack and got zip, but this site picked up and posted his article (he pointed out that it was no pay and online, but nevertheless, published after a technological fashion). Promote but not provide for the general welfare. Central importance of liberty of individuals to create and be productive. The less liberty the less prosperity. Government intervention enervates productivity. Self interest is the best ensurer of productivity and opportunity for all. This is a passionate piece, explaining why he is a conservative, to preserve the greatest ideas in the history of mankind. 700 words, moved in a clipped, to the point manner. Could Shane anchor this piece with contrasts in European politics? Discussion of the difference between anarchists and libertarians. Apex of liberty, the title of the article. So not possible to have absolute liberty if there is more than one person on the planet. Shane makes the point that libertarians, in his opinion, are flawed on the nature of man. Shane then shifted gears and read a poem exploring the cosmological argument for the existence of God. Which reminded me of Lewis's Evolutionary Hymn:
Lead us, Evolution, lead us
Up the future's endless stair;
Chop us, change us, prod us, weed us.
For stagnation is despair:
Groping, guessing, yet progressing,
Lead us nobody knows where.

Wrong or justice, joy or sorrow,
In the present what are they
while there's always jam-tomorrow,
While we tread the onward way?
Never knowing where we're going,
We can never go astray.

To whatever variation
Our posterity may turn
Hairy, squashy, or crustacean,
Bulbous-eyed or square of stern,
Tusked or toothless, mild or ruthless,
Towards that unknown god we yearn...

Carl, the proud owner of six baby chicks (hey, the guy has a church full of farmers--I think he's just trying to fit in), is not reading about animals tonight! I'm leaving! I love Carl's Herriet-esque devotional pastoral reflections. This is about his bride and his eleven year journey of developing convictions. The East Coast version of themselves would laugh at the West Coast version of themselves. Carl realizes that his developing convictions can deflect from the gospel; he sees it in himself and in others. Grumbling results. Great images. Cannonballs at the pool, soaking everyone else with their grumbling splashing. Rolled out the red carpet, inviting others to grumble with him. Carl admits that he too often fails to listen and draw out the other person's challenges, preferring rather to pontificate and solve the problem. They ask a simple question about where to eat and he launches into a erudite treatise on nutrition or the family table. First and last is the gospel. He wants his heart, hand and mouth to be riveted on the gospel, Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. 

This is what I love about Carl. He reads and we almost entirely forget about the writing process. We are drawn to lift our gaze from the lint accumulating in our navels and get on topic. Love it. The issue is not the issue. The problem is not the real problem. Carl so wants to listen better and begin to get down to the real issue, pull that out. This guy's church is blessed to have a pastor who thinks this way, who examines himself like this and clings to Christ for grace to listen, love, and care for the one who has issues (which is all of us, especially those of us who think we don't).

Tim (first-time 'Blot), reads chapter one of a book he is working on. I missed the names at the very beginning of the chapter. Fountain feels like it will collect meaning and maybe develop into a symbol. Changers, Eagle and Lion. Black paws. Sitting at a cafe, the fountain gurgling in the background. I feel like there is pretty dense description but a lack of action (and a clear lens through which to see it all). I feel like something ought to be about to happen, but I am not sure what or when or to whom; I need to know whose fortunes I most need to care about. I think the pace might be the problem. Where is this in the novel? That might help me. Our constant challenge in 'Blots is only getting the snippet, not the bigger story context. Here's what I think might rivet my attention: a clearer point of view through which I the reader am observing the action. I need a place to stand, eyes with which to see the fascinating details. Patrick suggested a clearer sense of what the conflict is, but then you launched into the history, and broke away from the focus of the conflict. Shane suggested need for shape shifters to be better defined.

What followed was a discussion about swearing in fiction. When is it appropriate and what is appropriate? For me, the big question is does it entice the reader to ape the language used, and the writer, thereby, because an instrument of leading someone into temptation. Not for me. There is a line I never cross. I never take the Lord's name in vain, ever. Period. Verisimilitude be -----!


  1. Great stuff, Douglas ... I feel like I'm sitting there with you guys!