Sunday, July 2, 2017

Abetting the Fugitive: Another Look at The Absentee Writer

Abetting the Fugitive:
Another look at The Absentee Writer

I have always been open to criticism regarding my writing, just not when that criticism is from me. We are our worse enemies, as you know, and Randy can get a bit personal when he's looking over Randy's work and, well; Randy can make Randy feel like he's not only a terrible writer, but he'd look a hell of a lot better if he got a hair transplant, too, and would be happier if he had a better paying job.

Randy is a real jerk! Even if he is right about the hair transplant that he could have done by any highly referenced facilities in the Indianapolis area.

In November of last year, I wrote a scene meant to evoke a moment of truth, with some added mystery (The Absentee Writer). The setting is obviously 19th Century or earlier and most likely takes place in a European kingdom. And, we know the main character is a man who is pondering over a love letter. What we don't know is why this is such a big deal. What is about to happen to him? 

The mysteriousness is largely evoked on the odd story structure (poetic prose-y kind of structure). However, I think more information was needed to better understand the plot, and the structure made the plot - and moral of the story - too vague. I also think the main writer could apply for Care Credit financing if he were truly serious about getting that hair transplant.

Did you catch that the man was in love with another man? And that he was discovered by the royalty who had then ordered his arrest? Did you catch the moral of the story, that just writing down the reality that is his forbidden love made it as real as life itself? An absolute truth?

Probably not! Nor, do I think, you should 'get' all those things. I always try to leave a mystery in my stories. Always.

Yet, here's the plug. I think I messed up on it. I trimmed the story down to fit a post -- I remember specifically doing this -- and I hated that I did. SO... While still wanting to remain poetic and mysterious in nature, I decided to rewrite the scene with more clarity in mind (but not too much). Furthermore, I took what I rewrote, and I rewrote that from third person to first person, and to present tense...to compare effectiveness. 

What do you think works? What do you think does NOT work?

Yes, I am seriously seriously considering a hair transplant. I am also seriously asking for your advice. The reworks are as follows: 

The Absentee Writer… is He

An unsigned letter creased in quarters laid between his hands, his left thumb smoothing out the deep folds against the desk with care to not smudge the new, oily pitch that penned his heart like gild as the flames from the fireplace crackled and danced in their crib.

The knocking of horses upon the frozen stone below his window was carefully placed and rhythmic to an eventual whisper. He peeled his eyes from the iced-over panes, returned them to his letter.

A finished tome written -- if only one sheet, written in parts, measured in beats, carefully folded, recklessly hidden, obsessively corrected -- over a month’s worth of worry. His heart, exposed, was assaulted by creases so deep and worn that a tear would form if it be quartered again…if hidden again…if corrected again. Truthful beauty this letter, like him, for both were the other inside out in articulating his absolute love.

Beneath his leathered skin, the flow of his blood. Against the worn parchment, the flow of his words.
A smudge formed a mirrored assault from left to right of the symmetrical center of his truthful letter; the words ‘love, more than’ and ‘hidden behind your twelfth step’ barely legible to any but the sharpest of eyes. He was tempted to recover the letters. To heal the words. One final time, he was tempted to --

A Footman must have set his box on the stone, for there was a thud followed by a skid. A carriage door squealed and the Footman declared his services in high-pitched Cockney.

He disengaged from the scene beyond the window, returned to the safety of his letter. What more can he say? What more could his words reveal? Unhidden, the linearize thoughts of certainty already evoked vividly from the parchment, regardless of the smears, the creases, the lack of more words. Yet, were they as alive as him? As alive as they needed to be?

‘My Prince, this seed’…
’God cannot spurn’...
‘Your kiss I need’…
’this fire, this burn’…

His right hand reached to write more, then hesitated, in midair, above his desk, as if grabbed by a guardian – a parental spirit – or some moralist jester! The flames cracked with laughter as they stretched out from their crib to see his hesitation. His shameful moment of weakness. So, the feather pen; it must remain stilled? But…

He stared at the ink jar filled with the shadowy world of forbidden thoughts that still imprisoned his candid words. How more could his chain of letters be linked? What more could his words bleed? Expose? The absoluteness burned. The judgment that prevented him from writing further…a hate inside of him that smoldered…then aroused him from his chair. He stared at the ink jar and willed the feather pen to move. To write!

He slammed his fists against his temples.

Censored, God declared such heretical thoughts be abandoned to perdition. God, then, must damn him to perdition! For, what he wrote was TRUTH. And so, TRUTH had finally been recorded. And recording TRUTH had been realized. And TRUTH has been realized in all its natural imperfection. What beautiful words is TRUTH!

The rap of the King’s Life Guard upon the door stilled his breath from the desire to read his truthful words aloud. “My Prince” his dry lips mouthed, though no sound issued forth. Another rap at the door. “This fire” his dry lips quaked, though no words did fall. Another rap at the door.

An unsigned letter creased in quarters laid upon the crib and gave birth to flames anew. The neophytes danced across the parchment and crackled in laughter, their bliss to end once the last words were consumed.

Beguiled and Forever Yours, His left thumb smothered his heart as he counted down the fading knocks within his chest.

The Absentee Writer… am I

An unsigned letter creased in quarters lay between my hands, my left thumb smoothing out the deep folds against the desk with care to not smudge the new, oily pitch that pens my heart like gild as the flames from the fireplace crackle and dance in their crib.

The knocking of horses upon the frozen stone below my window is carefully placed and rhythmic to an eventual whisper. I peel my eyes from the iced-over panes, return them to my letter.

A finished tome written -- if only one sheet, written in parts, measured in beats, carefully folded, recklessly hidden, obsessively corrected -- over a month’s worth of worry. My heart, exposed, is assaulted by creases so deep and worn that a tear would form if it be quartered again…if hidden again…if corrected again. Truthful beauty this letter, like me, for both are the other inside out in articulating my absolute love.

Beneath my leathered skin, the flow of my blood. Against the worn parchment, the flow of my words.
A smudge forms a mirrored assault from left to right of the symmetrical center of my truthful letter; the words ‘love, more than’ and ‘hidden behind your twelfth step’ barely legible to any but the sharpest of eyes. I am tempted to recover the letters. To heal the words. One final time, I am tempted to --

A Footman must have set his box on the stone, for there is a thud and then a skid. A carriage door squeals and the Footman declares his services in high-pitched Cockney.

I disengage from the scene beyond the window, return to the safety of my letter. What more can I say? What more can my words reveal? Unhidden, the linearize thoughts of certainty already evoke vividly from the parchment, regardless of the smears, the creases, the lack of more words. Yet, are they as alive as me? As alive as they need to be?

‘My Prince, this seed’…
’God cannot spurn’...
‘Your kiss I need’…
’this fire, this burn’…

My right hand reaches to write more, then hesitates, in midair, above my desk, as if grabbed by a guardian – a parental spirit – or some moralist jester! The flames crack with laughter as they stretch out from their crib to see my hesitation…my shameful moment of weakness. So, the feather pen; it must remain stilled? But…

I stare at the ink jar filled with the shadowy world of forbidden thoughts that still imprison my candid words. How more can my chain of letters be linked? What more can my words bleed? Expose? The absoluteness burned. The judgment that prevents me from writing further…a hate inside of me that smolders…then arouses me from my chair. I stare at the ink jar and will the feather pen to move. To write!

I slam my fists against my temples.

Censored, God declares such heretical thoughts be abandoned to perdition. God, then, must damn me to perdition! For, what I wrote is TRUTH. And so, TRUTH has finally been recorded. And recording TRUTH has been realized. And TRUTH has been realized in all its natural imperfection. What beautiful words is TRUTH!

The rap of the King’s Life Guard upon the door stills my breath from the desire to read my truthful words aloud. “My Prince” my dry lips mouth, though no sound issues forth. Another rap at the door. “This fire” my dry lips quake, though no words do fall. Another rap at the door.

An unsigned letter creased in quarters lays upon the crib and gives birth to flames anew. The neophytes dance across the parchment and crackle in laughter, their bliss to end once the last words are consumed.

Beguiled and Forever Yours, My left thumb smothers my heart as I count down the fading knocks within my chest.



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