Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"The Gloaming"

A poem by noted poet W.B. Yeast*:
Staring at the candle I fritter away
The last few hours of a winter's day.
Thinking deeply, on all that has past
On fractured remembrances of friend's days last.

Lost in the gloaming, the darkness creeps in
On the flickering light that is all that was been.
The candle goes out! Now what shall I find
In the deep, dark recesses that I call my mind?

The mind, the mind! Tis all we have left!
When the world turns funny and all reason has left.
Tis there we feel peace, tis there we feel calm.
Its meditative space is the Gilead balm!

Yet tis there I feel sad, tis there that I hurt!
There festers Paranoia, who keeps me alert!
Is nowhere safe? Is my temple profaned?
Maybe demons live in it to keep me insane...

Is that what tempts me? Some phantom, some ghost?
Is the world at large not what devil's me most?
Perhaps it is something beyond understanding...
Or maybe tis someone on some distant landing...

High up the gods, those distant great figures
Look down on us like we are low crawling creatures.
They break us and burn us and blow us to pieces.
Might also they stride in our most sacred places?

My thoughts aren't my own! My temple is theirs!
From them comes all that I think unawares
My love, my hate, my passions and fears,
All whispered by voices that I never hear.

Do I still sit darkness? No, only a wind
Had flickered the candle; the light it had hid.
But now I see more, the wax that is burned
It is not alone, to be by the gods turned.
*White Bread Yeast, that is. Who is actually a character in a story I am working on. The real person who wrote it is me. While subbing in health class. The kids were watching a video.


Recently, I have been working on a scene that would take place in one of the much later parts of SK, in, oh, Book III or so. It's a short scene, and I am stalled on it by having to write a passage of dialog from. It's fun to just jump around like this, write a scene that comes to me, even if it is not related to the place I am actually on in the story. I feel that actually writing these scene that pop into my head fullformed is an essential part of getting over my Fear of Writing.

An interesting part of working on this piece is that I think I have begun to develop a voice for the SK material. I think part of why I have been hesitant in writing this one (I have been stalling on it since last week) is that I am not sure if it's the right voice, partially because its very similar to the very first attempts I have had at writing this story.

It's very sparse. It relies heavily on simple descriptions of setting, sometimes, when I'm on, embracing imagist language. I tend to excise prepositions and linking words, resulting in long sentences that functions as lists of actions committed by the characters. I avoid narration of internal thoughts and emotions, relying more on a careful description of mannerisms, facial expressions, movements within a space, and vocal tone to convey what characters are thinking. In a sense, this shows almost a cinematic influence, as if I am describing the choices that actors would take to express their characters inner worlds. It is also very heavy on dialogue and portraying specific scenes.

There are a variety of reasons why I think I keep settling into this voice, but it keeps giving me pause. I guess I wish it was more flourid, more artful, more lyrical, with words that sang and danced off the page. Instead it feels more workmanlike, and boring to read. Which is discouraging.

Anyways, here's a taste of it. Tell me what you think.

Torquesville found Ahasaurus among a glade of trees along the river. They were sparsely popular, but once you walked a few dozen yards in, the outside was hidden. Ahasaurus was standing at the far edge, where the trees began to part, revealing a cliff overhanging the Rhine; he was staring at a pile of stones about as high as a man’s knees. There were many of these piles of stones scattered throughout the wood, all roughly the same size, made up of stones that went from being as small as a fingernail to as large as a head.

Ahasaurus turned, startled, then breathed out uneasily. Torquesville smiled kindly in return. “Oh, it’s you,” said Ahasaurus. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to stalk off like that, like a small child.”

Torquesville raised an eyebrow, smirking, looked down intently at one of the piles of stone. He nudged one stone about with the tip of his foot. “Oh, that’s quite all right,” he said, looking up. “I know how it can be. He can be quite insensitive, can’t he?”

Ahasaurus let out a little laugh, more of a breath than anything. “Yes, well, thank you. But really, I shouldn’t be so, so…”

“Touchy?” asked Torquesville. He was rolling the stone about on the ground like a ball.

“Yes,” said Ahasaurus. “Like a woman.”

Torquesville laughed.

“It’s just that I should be more…thick-skinned about it now. Not getting all hysterical and rushing off in a huff all the time.” His voice quieted almost to a whisper. “It’s been four centuries, after all.”

“Hmm,” said Torquesville, frowning slightly. He stared intently at the stone he was rolling with his foot.

They were quiet for a moment. Birds were chirping in the distance, and the Rhine hummed quietly along beyond the cliff.

It was Ahasaurus who broke the silence. “What are these stones doing here?” he said.

Torquesville kicked the stone he was playing with back into place. “You mean you don’t know?”

Ahasaurus turned and looked squarely at him. “Am I supposed to?”

Torquesville shrugged. “Not necessarily. It’s just, I thought it was obvious. They’re graves.”

Ahasaurus stepped back quickly from his pile, looking frightened.

Torquesville laughed.

Update: The scene is now finished.