Peter Turchi on the value of sideways drafts, in A MUSE AND A MAZE

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Last Friday evening, at an intimate salon, I had the privilege of hearing Peter Turchi, author of Maps of the Imagination, tease us toward his gorgeously crafted new book, A Muse and a Maze.

(Read that title fast, and you'll get the point.)

Like the best of books, this one won't be easily classified. Puzzles and magic abound. Commentary on obsessions. Quotes on sentence rhythms. Forays into slow time. A slice from Bruce Springsteen (yes, my friends, that Bruce Springsteen). A few helpful definitions illuminating genres, puzzles, and mysteries. I'm not finished reading yet. It's not the sort of book one rushes. But an hour or so ago I came across Turchi's reflections on the real purpose of multiple drafts, and I knew that I could be accused of gross selfishness if I did not stop and share. I live for the next draft with my own work. I've gone horizontal-vertical-down-out-up, and if one were to apply aesthetic measures to my draft sequences one would shake one's head in pity. One Thing Stolen, my new novel, is the perfect example of a book that took more than a little swish and swirl (and more than a few tears, but I did not drown) before it found itself. But that is a story for another day.

With no further ado, then, Peter Turchi:
To learn to dwell in our work is to use drafts to explore, with the understanding that our movement toward the final draft of a story or poem or novel is likely to include not only lateral movement but backward movement, and circular movement, and movement we can't confidently describe. Because to insist to ourselves that each draft carry a story toward closure is, necessarily, to limit the possibilities. Every choice must then at least seem to be an improvement on what's currently on the page, part of a straight-line progression, rather than an alternative to what's on the page, movement within a larger plane. We need to allow ourselves to pursue hunches, to discover, in the words of Robert Sternberg, nonobvious pieces of information and, even more important, nonobvious relationships between new information and information already in our memory.

1 comments:

Lilian Nattel said...

Thanks for sharing that, I like that so very much.

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