Tuesday, December 8, 2015

INKBLOTS--New book, trenches, point-of-view, Shakespeare, and Lewis

Tommies in No Man's Land 100 years ago
Four gentlemen friends, a crackling fire on a blustery Pacific Northwest evening, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Savignon, and companionable discussion of books and writing. Life's simple pleasures. Doug McComas hosting at his country byre. He shared about a book he is reading on Channel Islands occupied by the Nazis during World War II. Congratulations to Bob; he passed around a copy of his new book The Crescent and The Cross for our inspection, and we talked about the process and the high quality of the end result.

Doug Mc reads from his WW I backstory novel to his World War II yarns told from the perspective of the Germans (not all of whom were Nazis). Training for the trenches, name of chapter, set in Fall 1914, a few months into the war. Hubert. Could you use some brief German for authenticity? You are using the plural 'They' which feels to me like you are shifting from Hubert or Sepp to everybody. For example, you said 'they turned their heads, including Sepp.' Would it be better to say something more like, 'Sepp turned his head, trying to mimic what the man on either side of him did.' It is difficult for the reader to see the world through the eyes of 'they,' but far more authentic to see the world through the eyes of a specific character. He (the drill officer) showed his men, might be better, Sepp and Hubert learned how to ... I think it's point of view that I'm thinking of here; stick with your lens (or lenses). I felt like more smells, using simile--or other imaginative comparison.

Bob felt like it was fluid. He wished he had something he could say to improve it but he couldn't. This was a basic training episode. Bob concurred that this is what it is like in basic training. John said he didn't really feel like he could see the setting, what it was like. John recollected something he read from Stephen King about striking the mark on the right amount of description. Decide what needs description and what needs less. Certain things are essential and important to the central problem of the tale that effects the protagonist.

John read a politically correct bed time story, a model of how not to tell a compelling story, though humorous satirical spoofs on the devastating effects of the liberal agenda on literature (and by extension, everything else).

I read the chapter from War in the Wasteland that I have struggled with, a necessary breakaway from the Front to a field hospital. Chapter had gotten way too long, with discussion of 'whoremaster man' in King Lear (reading the play during their stay in hospital), and I was chafing the whole time I was writing it because I wanted to get back to the rising action at the Front. The chapter as it reads right now reflects my angst. But the gentlemen gave me helpful suggestions. Great evening.

Here's an excerpt from the troublesome chapter. Hoping and praying for a satisfying resolution to my frustration this morning, one that will make this a best chapter rather than merely a necessary one:

Next morning, with a yawn, Lieutenant Lewis observed, “The human whisper is a very tedious and unmusical noise.” He yawned again. “Especially so at night. How they expect us to recover whilst lovers carry on through the night disturbing our rest, is beyond me. But it’s a small price to pay, wouldn’t you agree Private Hopkins, for cleanliness, hot food, and a warm bed far from the Front?”

Nigel nodded and murmured agreement.

His second lieutenant seemed in a chatty mood and continued. “Since my childhood, I have learned to make a minor illness into one of life’s pleasures, very much like heaven—if there was such a place.”

Nigel sat up and looked around the field hospital. With a shrug, he said, “It is a bit cleaner.” 

“A bit? It’s infinitely so,” said Lewis. “Though it may fall a bit short when compared with the spit-and-polish of a peace-time hospital back in England, after what we’ve been living in at the Front, it is the epitome of warmth and cleanliness. Sniff the air, Private. Oh, all right, all right, a bit stale, but a world apart from the bad food, unwashed bodies, open latrines, and the decomposition of the unfortunates. But think of it, man! Our new duty, yours and mine, fleeting duty though it be, our duty is to lie about on a warm bed with clean sheets, being waited on hand and foot by England’s best. Here comes one of them now.”

No comments:

Post a Comment