Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Plot anxiety

I remember when I was in graduate school and developing inklings that all was not quite well with my career choice. I hated writing research papers. I liked doing readings, minutely close readings, and then sort of riffing off those, throwing in a few choice phrases from Foucault or whoever. But these were clearly--just--my readings, and therefore not interesting by definition. So I began thinking I should be some other sort of writer, and I remember saying to myself, well I could conceivably be a poet because I can create these sort of conceptual scenes. But I can't make things happen. I can't do plot. I decided shortly after that to try writing a novel for the precise reason that I was sure I couldn't do it. Now, this novel, as it stands, will never see the light of day, but I did find out that I can make (ridiculous) things happen. My problem is that sometimes I try to force things to happen, or I think that there's no plot unless someone gets killed, preferably by crashing into something. But now I'm trying to use Werner Herzog's filmmaking as an analogy, specifically those scenes where the camera just runs and looks at something (not someone) that's moving--grass in the wind, or rapids. Watch the movement in the scene and follow it. There's no need to have Bigfoot come stomping in--yet.

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