Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Bliss it was, indeed

The novel is finished (for the moment!), revised right through three or four times, sent to Amazon as a Word document, transmitted back to me - converted - so that the italics show up on Kindle, emailed to Plutarch for structural assessment. The opening chapter is too tight, too brusque (two Americans talking to each other) but I cannot presently tease it into relaxation. A lifetime’s conviction that all articles are too long leaves me deficient when asked to add rather than cut

I am under-employed. Wrote a post this morning, here’s another. Nobody’ll read them when they are jam-packed like this. But this is different, this is bliss.

Bliss means music, the greater power that leaves prose – even poetry – rocking in its wake. Nothing high-flown, just the sea-shanty/lamentation, Tom Bowling, where lines like

… lies poor Tom Bowling
The darling of our crew;
No more he'll hear the tempest howling
For death has broached him to….

Thus Death, who kings and tars despatches
In vain Tom's life hath doff'd
For tho' his body's under hatches
His soul is gone aloft


are matched to a simple, unsimple, desperately sad tune. Which I faintly know but have never learned. I listen to tenor Robert Tear, boy treble Lewis and a school band and – oh joy! – ensnare and hold the first eight bars. But the next eight rise gently, subtly. Just the first two notes - that’s all I need! Got them! Can sing them. On to the keyboard and – ah! – that’s it, the song’s heart laid bare, it’s mine damnit. And now I can take it with me to the kitchen, fill the coffee percolator, sing it confidently in the sharp acoustic and snuffle at its sadness.

4 comments:

herhimnbryn said...

'...now I can take it with me to the kitchen...'

That's one of the many joys of music, isn't it? Taking it with you anywhere. Once you have it in your head, it can be recalled in the kitchen, car, garden, bathroom, walking the hound...

Barrett Bonden said...

Having done all I described I found, later in the day, that I had lost the whole lot; couldn't even remember a hint of the tune. Had even forgotten the mnemonic that got me started. But I didn't worry because I knew that two notes of Robert Tear from the computer (which was then switched off) would get me on track again. In fact as I rose this morning (at 6.30 am) it was back in all its glory and as I type this - for the benefit of someone who truly understands - I'm singing it in my head. True portability. A little later,closer to Mrs BB's waking time, I'll confirm it on the keyboard. I take it you sing in the woods when walking Blue Dog.

Duchess Omnium said...

I expect your instinct on brevity is good. A well known writer once told me that he wrote everything down the way he liked it and then later threw in some adjectives to tart it up.

Barrett Bonden said...

DO: There's something seasonal about your appearances as you practise rarity (as I would if I could) as a quite justifiable means of increasing your value. But hell, winter seems such a long way away.

I am nothing without brevity. Often I prune things down to the point of incomprehensibility to meet the 300-word target. That's bad but not half as bad as taking the Thomas Wolfe route by not just putting my heart and soul into what I write but my liver, spleen and toe-nail clippings as well. I recognise this latest and treasured comment as truly subversive. You are not an adjective/adverb person and you are seeking to corrupt me.