Thursday, January 1, 2009

Clarity of the Mystery

I used to see myself as a fella who knows
what I think about everything. Writing novels
has cured me of that. I give up perfection.
(How many novels are about a fully enlightened
& complete personality?)

I give up on the idea of getting it
just the way I want. I would just keep
writing it over and over from the beginning.
From day to day and week to week I'm a better writer
intuitively and at the same time more comfortable
with the incompleteness of my knowledge of anything.
So, it's a good place to be, to see how unfinished
I am, my work is. It's a more precarious place,
as a person or writer, but it's liberating too
because it's real, it's where I truly live.

Any story I'm writing isn't worth a thing
if it doesn't have a fundamental mystery at its heart.
If it doesn't have that unknowable watching me
from the corner of the dream.

When I start a novel I hope the mystery of it will
sustain me to the end. How can something be so clear
and familiar and remain such a mystery?

Many times late at night I think I know what the mystery
of the novel is, what the elemental image means,
and the next morning it's a sphinx again, blinking only
when I blink.

What I love most in stories and books is the clarity
of the way the mystery is pursued, flirted and danced with,
mined and brought forth and then lost in the finding.
Which is more complete and fulfilling in The Treasure of Sierra Madre,
the long arduous finding and gathering of the gold,
or the sudden total loss of the gold in the howling wind?

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