Polishing Wisdom


Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Novel as Performance Art: An Update

Novels share qualities of performance art and still photography. The performance aspect is the language and story sliding into the reader’s eyes and mind. The best work flows without interruption, directly becoming image, emotion and experience. And when read aloud, it sounds good to both the ear and the heart.

Like photography, writing stays forever linked to a page to be scrutinized by readers, writers and reviewers. Each word choice, each sentence, plot point and line of dialog sits in the form the writer produced it . . . which is to say, one word and sentence at a time.

So, though much of the world’s great art leaps—or seems to leap—into being spontaneously, it is the rare novel that is not the work of many years labor. At its best, a book is a long string of static symbols on a page that magically becomes a vivid presentation of life.

The journey of my novel The Trouble with Wisdom confirms this. Born in the mind almost of-a-piece in April 2001, years of writing and research followed. Some of that research was geographical, cultural and literary. The more important work occurred internally, learning to feel and grasp the wild ride Zhampa DiOrio and his fellow travelers make (internally and externally) as they travel through an unraveled world.

A novel’s highest use comes from publication and getting there is often a long journey. The Trouble with Wisdom’s path to publication has involved many drafts and countless rejections by agents and publishers. In 2009, it entered the fray self-published as a Hand to Hand experiment, which you can read about elsewhere on this site. Two years ago an editor helped raise the story from its shallow water grave, instilled this author in the craft and persisted with him until an integrated narrative emerged.

That manuscript found an agent in March 2013 and, as of this writing, it is being read by editors in seven of the great New York publishing houses. Though the pleasure of writing is getting the story down, married to craft, every writer longs to get the book into the hands of editors. It is the greatest opportunity, the bar for which she strives. And as of this writing, I count myself blessed to be in this place.

But . . . simply arriving in New York is no guarantee of success. Many stories do not meet the whims and constructs of the day’s market. I will keep you updated on developments, as I now turn my heart and pen to another narrative. If you care to read The Trouble with Wisdom in its current form, I will be delighted to send it to you and to receive your feedback.

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