THE APPOGIATURA OF JEFF VANDERMEER
NOTE: The Clarion auction is still ongoing and you can become a fixture in Ambergris if you win the VanderBid. Two days left!
Sometimes it's important to change your environment to get past a problem in fiction, so last night instead of working at home, we drove to Anthony's and while Ann went on to a book club meeting I sat and worked at a table on the balcony outside, looking out over the street below. Crown Royal Reserve with a good cigar got the juices flowing, especially with the new Kasabian blasting in my iPOD (great stuff!).
What was the problem? Figuring out the relationships between a couple of characters. Figuring out the tone of conversation between a man and a woman. Figuring out who the interrogator was in one anonymous scene. And all of it, between the magical hours of 7 and 9 pm, became clear to me. And when I "woke up" so to speak around 9:30, there were 20 pages of scenes, half-scenes, and contextual notes all waiting for me.
Of course I was thinking it through the whole time--I wasn't truly absent--but I'd also put myself in a place where I could relax and be receptive to both my conscious and subconscious mind. Strange bits of connectivity floated into view. Odd but beautiful images materialized in front of me. Situations and details from the European trip that pertained to the story came into view without any of the extraneous context. I could see all the way down the long corridor of the story, with its many adjoining rooms and floors. The structure was as crystalline and insanely gorgeous as any real building.
It was one of those incredibly intense and sublime writing sessions that reminds you why you write: because the act of writing is pleasurable. Because when you come out of one of those writing jags, when you come out of the trance state, you regain briefly the sense of being personally connected to every cell in the body you inhabit and that body is connected to everything around you. In short, you feel like part of some immortal community. Or maybe it's just selfish euphoria, but still...
Later, looking over the notes, I saw that the waitress had come by and asked if I'd care for a mushroom appetizer and even that short exchange had become transformed into dialogue in the story...and it fit perfectly.