Sometimes I wonder why I write prose when I am entirely too fond of language that calls attention to itself. Or too fond of snatches of handfuls of words, rather than whole paragraphs/sentences. Or something.
Let me explain.
So I dug up this old bit from a Jack Vance novel today, because little snatches of it were echoing around in my head, and because it was driving me batty
that I couldn't remember the character's name (Navarth, my dear friend, how could I forget you?):
"See me! I am Navarth, called the mad poet! But is not every poet mad? It is inevitable. His nerves are conductive and transport uncontainable gushes of energy. He fears—how he fears! He feels the movement of time; between his fingers it is a warm pulsing, as if he grasped an exposed artery. At a sound—a distant laugh, a ripple of water, a gust of wind—he becomes sick and faints, because never in all the extent of time can this sound, this ripple, this gust recur. Here is the deafening tragedy of the journey which we all undertake!"
That is such a glorious introduction. I mean it's great in part because of its subject matter, but I think so much of it has to do with its form
—the way the words are chosen. Read it again now, notice those words—conductive
nerves, which make us think at once of electricity—but then we get uncontainable
, which is striking because ordinarily we don't think of nerves as containing
anything—but here they contain
, they contain the electric-life force, and just as we feel that rushing through his nerves we feel ourselves rushing through his words, a stuttering staticky ecstatic rush. Not a dash or an exclamation or a comma is misplaced. Read it aloud; feel it.
Like, I also have this pile of "writing prompts" on my computer, only that's a lie, sort of. Only rarely do they actually prompt me to write
anything directly. Mostly it's just a magpie's collection of little phrases and word-snatches I hear and I particularly like and want to save forever because they are beautiful.
I'm scrolling through the list of prompts for examples...( This turned into lengthy incoherent fangirling. Seriously.Collapse )