Wednesday, 3 March 2010
I took a break from poems yesterday. My eyes were doing that bulging thing and had gone all cracked and dry. Also, I had got the first draft of my covering essay (aka the Afterword) back from my supervisor with comments: the opening's a bit glib and ploddy, he said, I need to flesh out my idea, 'run with it.' I like the idea of running with it, but I have so little time I'm afraid of where running will take me and how long it will take to get back. I'm afraid that once I start running I won't come back at all.
So I spent yesterday thinking about my theme and not doing anything constructive at all. Now I'm wondering if I should scrap that idea and try another. It was a bit of a whim anyway. It was to reimagine heroism. The idea came to me after my supervisor said that my characters could never be heroes because they are always being dragged back down by the quotidian.
First I thought, 'that's true.' Then I wondered why that's true. Then I became irritated by the whole notion of heroes at all. Now I have a calcium depleted skeleton of an idea and every time I try to put some flesh on it, it breaks and I have to try and reassemble it. Knickers.
I hasten to add that he is very encouraging and only asks me to think a little more about what I am trying to say, so I can show how my characters and poetic personas fit in to the heroic tradition. Heroes restore the equilibrium that benefits a privileged few (landowners, governments, capitalists, etc.) at the expense of the rest of us. Heroic tales have traditionally been told to keep us content to stay in our place, by showing the alternative as evil. They give us a taste of that evil ( dragons, communists, terrorists etc.) and then along comes the hero and wipes it out so we can carry on (growing crops, voting, buying cars and handbags) living the 'natural' way we do. Are my characters collaborators?
But, there are anti-heroes, or people's heroes as they are sometimes known. Robin Hood, Ned Kelly, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid spring to mind. They always have to die in the end, don't they? I have to think. I have to think in a directed way, and do some research. But it all feels terribly artificial and strained, as though I'm trying to impose some sort of limit on my work that doesn't exist in reality. And I still have poems in need of attention, and stories, and a piece of non-fiction, and not much more than two weeks before the whole thing must go to the printer and be bound.
My problem could be that I am glib, incarnate.