Dirty Gerty's Hurdy Gurdy


Only the poem knows what's true

Monday, April 5, 2010

Last Night... What Happened?

A trusted source relayed, to me, there were cops (in abundance), Police SUVS, even a military truck (?), by Tides Beach? The road, to Tides, was in fact closed off. The bit about the military truck seems rather... sketchy... that may have been something else, which appeared to be a military installation. Even so, I could write a piece of flash fiction, here, as pertains to what it might have been. But, frankly, I'm not in the mood, my imagination, that is, quite sub-par today, my wit, too. I'm guessing it was an alien or one of those "monsters" floating up on shore, like the Montauk Monster, or as of late, most recently, The Glen Cove one (!).

Today, in this luxurious weather, spring is attacking me with its luxuries, after all, I want to say something about The Paris Review Interviews, so I will. The one about Robert Gottlieb (let's hope I spelled that correctly), is quite intriguing. In case I performed a spelling solecism, spelling his name incorrectly, I'll refer to him, within this blog, as Mr. G.

In the bit about Mr. G, The Paris Review put together a bunch of writers who were commenting on editors, on Mr. G and whatnot. Writers like Toni Morrison, Cynthia Ozick, Michael Crichton, Joseph Heller... and there was one idea I adored. It was set forth by Mr. Crichton. He said, basically, as a writer, when you conceive of something, it's like standing on a dock with the view of a ship off in the distance. You see it in its entirety, but find yourself, quite suddenly, in its bowels. With a view of nothing but the wires and pipes and whatnot, losing the "full" concept you had had from the dock. It's editors like Mr. G, who can see the work as if from a dock, who in fact have the gift, the ability, to guide you to make it that way, as you originally viewed it, again.

I think this is quite true, for all good editors. Because, I find, when you write, it's very much like that. You have the conception of the idea, in your mind, you have an image of what it will be like overall, without any intricacies, any details. And then, when you start in the process of re-creating this image, you end up in its bowels. Diverted by the technicalities and syntax at hand, by the characters, the plot, the images, you can't quite put it all together. You know there's a collective "dock image," containing these intricacies, at hand, but you can't see it. A good editor, an excellent editor, however, can. Because good editors make it a priority, to mine the writers' temperaments, to see the psychology, to see the aim, and sustain their own vision within this process. What makes the work speak, what makes it an image to be seen, even when there's emphasis on its "bowels."

I like reading about Gottlieb. It seems, to me, anyone who worked with him, saw that he had the gift of... intuition, and perspicacity. He knew when a writer needed to axe 300 pages. He knew what did and did not work. And there's another idea put forth that I like, that a good editor is kind of like a director. Someone who can take ALL the actors' potential, and fit it into a film reel; someone who can take all the writers' potential, and fit it in a book.

I'm writing about this, I suppose, because my mind is defunct, but, I want to put forth my appreciation for GOOD editors. Not the sort that nitpick over EVERY word, and point out ALL the grammatical and spelling solecisms, but the ones who know how to give the piece its voice. Though, not necessarily to give it its voice, but to polish its voice. To do this, an editor must be VERY well read, and very acute, and quite astute as pertains to readership.

Something Gottlieb lamented, Mr. G I mean, is the way things have changed. The way publishing houses used to take chances on beginners, even if it meant no profit; now they are simply profit machines. And, the editors, well, some of them try to make the work entirely their own, discrediting the writer every which way. A good editor is someone who doesn't do this. Someone who is selfless, in trying to polish the writers' voice, but able enough to stand up and point out what doesn't work in getting the writers' idea across. I would adore a Mr. G; it's too bad the Mr. G clones aren't sold in stores, because I'm certain, I'd be the first to grab one. Maybe even a robotic replica, of Gottlieb.

By the by, does everyone know where the word robot came from? It originated in Carel Kapek's play, RUR. In the early twentieth century. But, get this, it was really his brother, Josef, who came up with the idea. Just a bit of trivia to flit away anything that now, to you, seems mundane.

And also, here's an aphorism for you to digest. "There it is." From Robert Stone. Seems to me an encapsulation of everything we seem, and everything at stake, in the slosh and slip of the dream, from which we must wake. Or must we? That's simply a thought, for another day. Now I'm on a hunt to find extraterrestrials, or, perhaps something more productive, more work on my second novel.

1 comment:

  1. Flash fictions are a good idea here..It's so hard to get people to read anything..
    thanks for the trivia too...