Sunday, March 15, 2009

Literary Alchemy

The month is almost halfway over. I have logged 6 hours and 9 minutes out of the requisite 50 hours of editing. 72 of those minutes tonight. I have a practically hopelessly long way to go if I want to win, which of course I do. Lose? That's no option. On the other hand, even if I do lose, I've done more than I would have otherwise, I suppose. Goals are useful, that way. They push you, even if not as far as you want to go.

I wrote a scene tonight I really liked, the essence of one of those themes I want to come through, for one section of the story, anyway. I work first from themes and motivations -- emotions are far more important to me than the physical, and physical description will come later. Fortunately, I'm getting some physical description in now because some themes have physical symbols... Anyway, I've been thinking about alchemy recently, at least in relation to The Miller's Granddaughter, first because of talking with Rachel about the book How Harry Cast His Spell, and then because of another book I had begun recently, Spinning Straw into Gold: What Fairy Tales Reveal About the Transformations in a Woman's Life
, and then from there to the fact that my book, The Miller's Granddaughter, is in fact inspired by a fairy tale which I now realize has a very obvious alchemical theme running through it, being in fact about spinning straw into gold. I am a bit troubled that the order of the colors seems to differ in the two books, and annoyed that the better order is probably in How Harry Cast His Spell, since it has explicit references to alchemy and Spinning Straw into Gold rather ironically doesn't, at least not yet; annoyed because I read How Harry... later, after roughly shaping the color stages in my book. But arguments could be made for various orders, I suppose. To a certain extent. And I'm all for diverging from past literature, so long as one realizes exactly how one is doing so and why.

So. I haven't done much writing or editing. I need to do more. But bit by slow bit, I hope to turn my story itself into gold, just as within itself it portrays the process. I cannot express how thankful I am for this, for my novel, for the satisfaction of writing it... for... everything. I only wish I did more. I still get afraid of it, when there hasn't been time in a while. I fear that if I sit down and try to write, nothing will come out. I fear that I'm tapped out, that it's too hard, that I've been away from it for too long and I've lost everything I had. But then I sit down, and as it turns out, there's something there after all. There's always something. Again, thank You, God.

Oh, by the way, if anyone can think of good literary examples of invisibility as powerlessness rather than power, could you pass that on to me? As far as I can think of, ghosts are the only example of that. And maybe The Invisible Man, but ideally I want to find it in fantasy literature or fairy tales, and I haven't read The Invisible Man. There's a bit of it in The Lord of the Rings, but really the Ring-bearer loses power when he puts on the Ring only because the Ring makes him more visible to his enemy. Still, that concept of fading is part of what I'm going for. There might be a good quote in Deathly Hallows, but I most aggravatingly do not own that book. Still, I'll definitely get a hold of it again if I need to. And then if anyone can advise me whether or not I'm stretching things to connect this invisibility theme to alchemy... white is one of the colors, but that's not the same as transparency. Meh. I'll make it fit, darn it. There can be multiple themes, not just one. Yeah.

And now I think I may be spending more time writing about writing than actually writing... ah, well. Even if not in equal proportions, I do seem to need both.

1 comment :

Robert said...

Well, there's the Invisible Girl Buffy ep in season 1 - that was certainly about powerlessness, though I'm far less sure it'd be helpful in the way you're looking for. And although I think Giles says there's "countless instances" of invisiblity blah blah blah, I highly doubt he gave any actual references.