I’m going to try being brief this week, since I’m in the middle of working on a thing and want to get back to it. Being intentionally vague here (more on that below).
I’ve continued to chip away at Moby-Dick this past week. I’d say I’m somewhere between a third and halfway through. It definitely does some strange things (most notably shifting from first-person narration into a stage-like series of soliloquies from other characters), but overall I’ve found Melville’s rambling, careening prose engaging enough to carry on through the oddities.
I got into an interesting conversation with a friend this week, who loathes Moby-Dick. But, it’s less because she actively dislikes the novel, and more that she said she’s read it in three different classes, and had it analyzed backwards and forwards and upside-down. Honestly? I can’t say I blame her for disliking the book, after all that. Certainly there’s a lot to find in Moby-Dick, but at what point is continued analysis of any work worth it? At what point is the magic gone? When does a good novel get disemboweled and left as a pile of paper and ink?
Can’t claim I’ve got an answer there, but I hardly think it controversial to suggest that the literary community over-analyzes quite a lot of books. Analysis is good, trying to understand how a piece works is good. But, I think part of that understanding is also finding an appreciation for a story as the story, not as a pile of words and letters. Wherever the line may lay, it most certainly can be crossed.
Deadlines are a magical thing. It turns out that when someone else is saying “Get this done, now,” it gets done rather quicker than when I’m left to my own devices.
First chunk of revision is done on my “thruns” story. I still need to wrap up this revision/rewrite, but the first sections are revised and submitted to my instructor. I didn’t submit the whole thing because the previous draft was four or five pages over the pagecount, and this full draft will probably be longer still–mostly adding the pretty stuff, further description, maybe letting some passages ramble. Experimenting with voice, that thing.
But, I’m finding it necessary to set the thrun story aside for a little bit. I don’t know exactly the good manners in this situation, so I’m going to be intentionally vague, but a while back I queried a journal to see if they’d be interested in a version of a paper I wrote even longer back. I recently heard from them, and they are. It’s loosely in the category of literary criticism.
So, that’s become my main project the past few days, and for this upcoming week. I’ve reviewed the paper I queried about, and it needs a bit more work than I thought. Basically, it needs a whole re-write. Ideas seem fine, structure and presentation needs a re-do.
I’ve mostly re-mastered (or almost-mastered) the material again, and I’m a page, page and a half into the writing. I’d like to get this done and submitted to the journal on Friday, but absolutely no later than the rest of this week. I’ll return to finishing the revision of my thruns story next week, classwork (and work-work) permitting.