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Dog by the harbor; likely epigraph; how a story works

Saturday 4/29/23

Late in the afternoon the other day I went down to sit by the harbor. I hadn't been out for two days. Not once. The seemingly impossible happens: things get harder when they are already an absolute of difficulty that requires absolutes of strength and endurance to continue on. That is the paradox: the absolute begets absolute.

It was gray and cold. I pull strength from the sea. I just sit there and draw something in, and also draw in something that is already inside of myself, which sounds paradoxical as well.

A very attractive woman came along walking her dog. There was nobody else out. Said dog was a somewhat skittish beagle. He had a look of concern in his eyes. The look of a living creature who wants to avoid anything bad that might befall it, and that senses anything could at any point.

I put out my hand as I'm wont to do with dogs. He veered from the course he was on and came up close to me. I just held my hand there. He retreated, but just a shuffle or two. Then he advanced again and stayed there, and I scratched the top of his head.

The fetching woman said, "Wow. That's like a miracle. He doesn't let anyone pet him. He's a very scared foster dog."

Now, one might say, "Why didn't you talk to the comely woman," but I was in no place. I'm often in no place within the subsuming hell that is worse than hell. I try to bandage and repair my soul so that I may continue. That's all there is. The bandaging and the repairing, or the trying thereof; the enduring; the creating; the fighting, the war; and the fight to find hope that this can and will change.

The Solution to the World's Problems: Surprising Tales of Relentless Joy is likely to have an epigraph. That epigraph is likely to come from "What the Mouse Knew." It is likely to be these lines:

It’s a hard night. She’ll start again tomorrow.

It's always an epiphanic experience to me to learn how one of my works will work. As the characters tell me their stories, so too do the ways in which a fictional creation of mine make themselves known to me. It is different every time.

Fiction will withhold. That's one way story builds. The teller of the story--and it can be a third person teller--has information that they parcel out. What they allow to be revealed on page thirteen could have been revealed on page one, but it wasn't.

"Finder of Views" works in a unique way. All is revealed in frank, candid, unstinting terms from the very beginning. Nothing is held back. A man is doing this very particular thing that he is doing and there's no attempt to hold that back or not be frank with the reader. It's very candid about what that thing is from the start.

But: that thing is so different that even as it's being put out there openly, sans stinting, we don't know completely what it is right away. Time--and space--has to pass underfoot, if one will--that is, on the page itself.

More and more comes clear, and as it does so, power is gained. It's like the unsealing of an epiphany that always had some light coming out of the box. The cover keeps getting pulled back and pulled back at a steady pace, taking as long as it takes. There's no saving for later. What one gets is immediacy, but a sustained immediacy.

Did I know that that's how the story would function? No. It was revealed to me by the story, which is how it always works. Then I see, and it makes perfect sense. I am in on a discovery, too. The discovery happens in real-time, without trial and error. It's like this creation exists before it visibly exists, and is some temple or jewel that is invisible in the air, but it is there, solid and real, and I apply a special rag to that object and its form becomes visible. It can be a whole sparkling citadel.

What is important is that I know it is there just as much before as I do after. I don't know it the same way, but I know its presence in the same way. I get to find out.

In composing, I open myself up to something that is beyond human experience. I am beyond this world. But I also know that it is necessary to go beyond this world to be able to reveal what is most necessary in this world. That power staggers me. It is unlike anything else I feel anywhere else. The infinite gap between worlds. And I know that in traversing the gap with what I am creating in the experience of creating it that I will take what I have back across the infinite gap--again, the paradox--to where I started, and that is the world, this world. When I write a story like "Finder of Views," it's not a case of "time to do my writing for today!" and "isn't this rewarding!" It's a holy experience. A holy human experience.


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