Thursday, December 11, 2008

writing up to and beyond a single moment

i recently finished reading this overwhelming, difficult, brave and beautiful book for the second time. i am even more impressed and moved and inspired than i was with my initial reading. i think faulkner's writing is gutsy, singular, jarring and breathtaking. not that i think he doesn't slip and fall sometimes. because he does and quite often, but that's the risk of an ambitious and daring writer. but particularly in this novel i find that his footing is surer despite the treacherous terrain of the text-the story of a tragic family, haunted and aching and bruised.
in an interview that took place early in 1956 in new york city, faulkner articulated how a story begins for him- "a writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others. with me, a story usually begins with a single idea or memory or mental picture. the writing of the story is simply a matter of working up to that moment, to explain why it happened or what it caused to follow."
in a 1933 introduction to the sound and the fury, faulkner explicitly discusses his process for the novel, "when i began the book i had no plan at day it suddenly seemed as if a door had clapped silently and forever between me and all the publishers' addresses...and i said to myself, now i can write. now i can just write. whereupon i,...began to write about a little girl...a little doomed girl climbing a blooming pear tree in april to look in the window at the funeral...i saw that peaceful glinting of that branch was to become the dark, harsh flowing of time sweeping her to where she could not return...that just separation, division, would not be enough, not far enough, it must sweep her into dishonor and shame too..."
i am obsessed with how this image, this flashing mental picture of a "little doomed girl climbing a blooming pear tree in april" exploded into the sound and the fury.

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