Tuesday, October 9, 2012

To Give the Gollum his Due

In a previous blog I lamented the insidious influence of my Gollum, pronounced him a repugnant squatter in the dark recesses of my  mind, condemned him as a sly negator of the slightest of creative attempts. I have not been entirely fair.

My Gollum can be a propagator of self-doubt and a mouthpiece for shrill denunciation, but he is also an agent of dark unexpected musings. At times when I write I give myself over to him, I let his mutterings take precedence, and sometimes, in that rare unforeseen moment, he has flashes of something -  a distillation of instinct and intuition that draws upon dark undercurrents of which I have no conscious recognition. I discover to my chagrin that my characters obstinately refuse to follow the preordained plot line; they veer off in sometimes alarming ways, articulating thoughts and concepts that were never supposed to be theirs, forming alliances and creating havoc in a most disobedient fashion. I blame the Gollum. However, sometimes after this rather unsettling frenzy of darkly-inspired prose, I re-read (with no little trepidation!) these pieces and often find that perhaps the Gollum, at times, knows better than I.

So when do you dutifully follow your much-belabored outline, and when do you let the Gollum speak? I have found my Gollum is not particularly concerned with logical flow or tidy plot resolution, he is contemptuous of pre-planning and organizational methodologies. He is intrinsically a creature of the moment, swayed by the emotional and physical needs of his gluttonous appetite, seeking, above all else, an immediate and visceral gratification.

So what do we do with him? Tame him, leash him, bind him, and harness whatever dark muse he offers to our own convenience. But there's the rub - the Gollum is, by nature, fiercely ungovernable. He is crafty and cunning, sly and shrewd, and above all frustratingly elusive. If we are appropriately deferential, if we empty our mind of logical progressions and free ourselves from the constraints of preformulated expectations, then he might condescend to visit us just briefly. And amongst all the spiteful criticisms and derisive doubts, he might have a gleaming precious scene or two to offer. I have one of this kind, written in a feverish haste during an initial draft that has never since been revised; and I think not coincidentally, it was a violent emotional scene of confrontation and angst.

Perhaps that is when we best let the Gollum out - for those times of conflict and desperation, where the characters themselves are at a pinnacle of emotional torment. Perhaps we can then allow ourselves to lend an ear to the brutish little beast who is, perchance, better acquainted with primal instinctive undercurrents than we. Of course once his dark inspiration has petered out we need to transition back to the concise plot progression, adhering to developed structural trends that will enable a tight resolution of characters, plot and ultimately novel itself.

There is, however, in my writing world, an indubitable place for my Gollum and I hereby offer apologies for unintended slights I may have inflicted in a previous post. He is not, after all, the easiest of guests, and his deviously furtive ways take some getting used to. One can don heavy armor in an attempt to deflect his malicious jabs, but at times, dodging the blows, one also needs to listen - for there is a power in his dark acquaintance with the most primal of passions.

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