No title suggests itself

In Current reading, Revision, The Crab Walker, Theater on June 24, 2014 at 8:10 am

The thunder ripped and the lightning crackled last night. So I shut down the system, and read the preface by Ali Smith to  Katherine Mansfield’ Collected Stories in the Penguin Classics edition. (Called an Introduction in this case but with the little Roman numerals that tell you the real book hasn’t started yet.) The power outage happened while I was reading the first story in the collection, Prelude. This is a nice, thick, substantial book and Mansfield’s writing is a presence I’ll want around for a long, long time.

The competitive relationship between Mansfield and Virginia Woolf. Woolf’s reaction to Mansfield’s death: “Now the only writer able to make her jealous was gone, there was ‘no point in writing any more … Katherine won’t read it – Katherine’s my rival no longer.’ ”

A curious thing, writing. Walking back from my last Monday coaching session of the school year, I stopped on the bridge. The heat, a physical thing bearing down. The water, murky green, filled with swirling ripples where schools of small fish fed on bugs, bread crumbs (or other fish? maybe). The character I had left was there with me. The writing works best when I accept the fact you don’t choose your characters for their charm or their social graces or their potential on Popularity contests. They stick around because they can’t leave off. They can’t leave off because something’s gnawing at them – a need. Most of them aren’t even clear what that need is. If pressed, they’ll give it a name. “Need to know who my father was.” “Need to make that guy pay.” “Need to hear her say she loves me.” “Need to…” Whatever. There’s no guarantee the stated need is the real one. Or the only one. Or the main and decisive one.

The only guarantee: the story continues. As long as the characters scribble notes at you or stop  you on the bridge or make you keep on walking to get back to the computer despite the pain in your legs, the story continues.

Katherine Mansfield.

Und now, next scene, and I don’t know what it will be.


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