More later on what I call "the driver." Someone I know read "The Roll of Words." They had this to say about it:
"Fuck man. This is a great story. Thanks for letting me read it. Damn. So many great lines. And that ending. You're hitting them out of the park. How do you do it? Is it just flowing through you? Do you just sit down and it comes? Do you see something out in the world that sparks the idea? I'm curious about your process... Also: Keep going."
I wanted to answer their question, then I read my answer and thought it could be useful, too, for these pages. Here is that answer:
"Your words mean a lot to me. Rarely does anyone say anything to me. I'm just seeing this now, as I go through this hellscape that is my inbox. It's killing me that they won't let these come out. I think, more than anything--and there's a lot--but I think, more than anything, what kills me the most, hurts me the most, is knowing what I have, and having it just sit here with me, because they're not going to put it in. I think it'd be a lot easier if something like this was not what it was, and it was just okay, and I could deal with that better, the mediocre work that was just not being seen. I keep getting better. The works don't get better, I feel like I maxed out on that a ways back, but my ability to make the work, on the inside, gets better. Faster. Easier. And create new forms of work, enter places I have not been before.
"I feel like I've figured it all out like I've solved this mystery no one else ever has. My process varies. I don't really have one, I guess. Yesterday I came up with a major story. Came to me. Then I walked a lot, and for several miles I figured it out. Then I just have it. Other times, I decide to just do one that does not exist. I can simply decide to invent it. "Acorn Caps" was that way, "Holds." "Crossing Deer" started that way, then it changed, and I listened to what the change was supposed to be.
"This one here, "The Roll of Words," it just came to me. Came from that idea of the question of the orgasm. Someone wondering that about someone else. Everything fell into place, and it was written in less than two hours. I'm able to hold a lot of things in my head at once, so there's this layering of functionality in the works, the design. Everything in "Fitty", for instance, happens on these diagonal planes. The story is actually structured like a succession of stairs. Fitty herself even stands in stair-like positions. In "Crossing Deer", the hunt--the car, the guns--has a design to it that looks as though it were worked out over years. But I do that level of design naturally, it's breathing for me. It comes from beyond me, but it is me. It's always there, I always have it.
"Sometimes it's about identifying what I call the driver. A story will have a driver. Sometimes it's more overt than other times. The driver of "Crossing Deer" was the hunt. Driver of this one was that question. Driver of "Fitty" was the thing with the stairs. Eventually Carleen has to go up the stairs. Everything drives to that. When she goes up the stairs. When I have the driver, I can do anything, I can build anything off the driver. It's how the story moves north. But at this point, really, it's all a decision. Everything will come to me, or I can just decide to make everything come to me. I have complete control.
"And then what happens to the work happens to the work, with these people. That's where I have no control. And the better I get, the more I do, the more I create, the more I publish, the worse that gets. Well, it doesn't get worse at this point, I don't suppose, because they've made up their minds. It's hard being hated like this, when you've done nothing wrong, when you're hated because of what you can do and do do. I say things on the blog about whatever, but that was because they took it here, after more than twenty years. Because I just used to knuckle the forehead, trying to play their games. And eventually I had to accept that it wasn't unwillingess on my part to do anything I had to do for my work--kiss these asses--but what I achieved, and my expertise and genius. That's why they hated me. Not because I was some monster or raped their colleague or abused power or plagiarized. They would have hated me less if I did those things. It feels worse when I do achieve things, because you think, "Okay, now I've done this, this and this," and even though you know better, you think maybe there will be some motion, some letting up."