Monday, May 7, 2018

Resolution and Mystery--The Writer's Dilemma at Inkblots

Inkblots gathering in The Scriptorium on a warm spring evening (the heat pump shifted to AC on its own volition), record breaking temp for Western Washington (not the highest standard of temperature, I realize that).

Rachel leads off with a return to her Russian cuisine yarn that makes me salivate, especially at all her descriptions of fine cheese. Trusov, the maître de of maître des. Narrative, fluid, delicious, specific details (Chanel no 5). I like it when you enter with confronting dialogue, a waiter confronting a presumed guest who was out of dress code, but he was an agent coming for government reasons. Short but very intriguing. Patrick comments about writing episodic, epic like, overarching story told in episodes, strong clash of cultures, starkly different elements, gesture toward the unopened door, the big story. He likes the epic feel of this story, following the cheese across Russia, gaining substance and steam as it flows, maybe, ages is the better word.

We discussed the incompleteness of a good story, per Flannery O'Conner and Tolkien, story's action is complete but there is still mystery. This side of heaven there is still incompleteness, mystery. The Bible reads this way: David's history ends but without contextual resolution. Something bigger is coming, more perfect, more wonderful, more complete. But even in Christ and the incarnation, there is a now and not yet element. Mystery and resolution still resides in the future.

Patrick has decided to stop working on the zombie book. Not to abandon the project but to get an editor and perspective on the work. So he is rewriting the graphic novel in conventional novel form. He is also working on a critique of modern Christianity in non fiction. But he decided to read from his work on the Mongol (pagan) and the Puritan (Christian). Drawing heavily from Babylonian mythology, names and cult. Does the opening serve as a prologue? Then you moved into an excerpt from ancient mythology. I hear your love of epic in this, especially the clash of cultures and starkly different elements. I felt this went from big and epic to specific, familial and warm, a good strategy. I love the way you make observations about history and the interaction of the powerful and the subjugated: Farmers are easier to tax.

Bob commented that it has a saga like tone, very suitable.

John's new last chapter, that Doug made me write. What a guy. Rewritten to include an actual baby, since the book, Saving Grace, is all about an unwonted pregnancy. A baby must appear, and be the instrument of changing everything. The interaction between the doctor and the mother seemed stilted. The labor and delivery nurse would do something at this point, reposition her, massage, something. What the doctor and the nurse are doing seems too vague. A moment of final suspense where the baby seems not to be breathing, her mother. And Rachel thought that having her say I was going to kill you, seemed too preachy. Have her stroke her soft cheek, kiss her forehead, show the reader the baby. Bob (Hemmingway) Rogland liked how John used very few adjectives and the simplicity of the narrative.

I finished off with reading three character sketches for my protagonists in The Resistance (working title), my WWII espionage historical fiction. I'm getting more excited about the research an preliminary writing on this companion novel to War in the Wasteland (set in then-atheist CS Lewis's platoon in WWI). How is it a companion, you ask? In The Resistance, the French and SOE agents received their coded instructions on BBC broadcasts. CS Lewis was the voice of faith in the war years on the BBC, hence the French Resistance would have heard his voice in all likelihood, and they certainly will in this account. So much fun, getting to choose the particular words they will hear throughout the various episodes of the yarn! Would you like to read an excerpt of the forthcoming WWII novel? Stay tuned to a forthcoming blog post and reading on The Scriptorium, my podcast at


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