7 October 2008

Letter 3.57

(Sometimes running around the margins of Bob's letters were postscript bugs, which seemed to be chasing one another, or perhaps were bugged to keep circling the square edges of their paper world. 'SLOGAN OF THE MONTH: A GAPING CHEST WOUND IS NATURE'S WAY OF TELLING YOU YOU'VE BEEN SHOT'. After reading a book on St. Francis by Chesterton: 'Francis is the greatest Hindu Italy ever produced.' And... 'If the Buddha were alive today he'd probably get arrested for insighting the people to quiet,' -- Hūm)

Okay, I'll try again. The complete incomplete Worthy Bones has, I gather, not settled well in LA, so maybe it can be coughed up if my feather keeps tickling that distant throat. Beyond that I've got notes and scribblings which I'll send to you if you ever decide to do anything further with it. For my part, unless some publisher takes a definite interest in it I doubt that I'll find the enthusiasm to go back to it. This isn't because of the story, but because of my telling of it, which I feel has gone downhill more and more precipitously as the story got along. Not bad, perhaps, for half of it, but then somehow it lost energy, picked up a lot of heavy weight and lost a certain essence of human interaction which had been its motivating power earlier on. It got too plotty. Ponderous. Some good moments, perhaps, but essentially static moments: the book doesn't seem to be moving along, and that's why it got to be such a burden. I had to push it along, whereas in the early part it had its own momentum.

I think any reader would sense this, and find the reading as tough going as I've found the writing. If you are going to do anything with it, strive for dynamism. Sure, motion is illusion, but that's what people are after, after all: illusion. Nobody's gonna pay hard-earned money for reality. Who needs to? Reality's free. It's everywhere. We've got more of it than we know what to do with. If you can slip a little uneasiness into the illusion, make them feel not quite so sure of themselves, that's about all that can be hoped for.

I think Worthy Bones -- for both of us -- has not been remiss in the uneasiness department. I think it needs to be more illusory, and that means more believable. The plot is absurd, of course, and I've known this from the start, but then I know of some very successful books with very absurd plots. (Slaughterhouse-5, for example, going from WW2 to another star, and all that.) But I think in order to make a plot believable you gotta skim over it lightly, not pay so much attention to it, and what I've been doing is delving into the details of the how's and wherefore's of it, trying to establish its reality through accretion instead of suggestion. Some good accretions in there, but that's all they is, accretions, and they don't really succeed in making anything more believable, do they?

On the other hand, of course, it's entirely possible (though, I think, unlikely) that I'll wake up one day full of enthusiasm and see clearly what needs to be done to correct what's been done poorly (I don't see this now; perhaps you will: you have a much lighter touch than me) and set to work. But barring that, or unexpected publisher interest (in which case I would finish it even if I knew it to be a flawed finish) I'll likely be finished with Worthy Bones. It was fun for a long while, though. Thanks for letting me play with your toys.

I leave in a few days for Malaysia, where I'll get a 60 day tourist visa and -- hopefully -- be allowed to re-enter Thailand for that time, I figure I'll probably do that twice -- once now, and once again early in November -- and then I'll make some sort of decision. The logistics of various things seem to make it preferable for me to delay such a decision until November, Bureaucracy Willing. Until the November trip I'll stay at Suan Moke. Then I'll move up to Bangkok to settle my hash.

I have no choice but to make some sort of change in my life now. It's been a rather good life, quite suiting me, so far, and I wouldn't want to do anything too different. Considering the options available to me, the least different thing I can think of is ordaining again. Perhaps I'll think of something less different in the next 2 months, or perhaps I'll decide to try something more different anyway. But that seems to cover the range of my choices. It's enough to make my teeth itch.


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