Rendered Fat Content


Vincent van Gogh:
Fishing in Spring, the Pont de Clichy (Asnières)

" … emergent properties, never properly envisioned …"

Assembling a manuscript feels like puppet work as if I can only accomplish it while suspended by strings and manipulated by a puppeteer. It seems slow and sloppy; each story pulled from its marinating emulsion where it's sat suspended since I first finished it, awaiting a second finish and probably a third. The work seems absurd compared to the hands-on immediacy I experience when writing. Assembling involves no out-of-body trance like writing does. Intuition, enormously satisfying when writing, does not for an instant enter into assembly work. It's measured steps in particular orders, pedantic to a fault, trying. I can't phone in this effort, and I can't for a minute doze through it, for the stories have changed since I set them aside. They disclose new meanings and promise fresh beginnings. Their flavor's changed.

I had been fussing over how long I'd let some stories set before finally assembling them.
I sense now that I needn't have concerned myself. They seem to have benefitted from their long emersions. I suspect one reason to have been that I almost managed to forget them in the interim. I experience them again as if I'd never before experienced them. I've never experienced any of them within the context within which I fish them out for inspection. They do not emerge a finished product, but still—STILL!!—work in process. I remain uncertain how I'll know when they're finished, but I can tell for certain when they're still not yet done. They're still not yet finished.

There must be easier ways to assemble my work, but I cannot imagine what those ways might be. There's no escaping the need for me to re-read each one, and more than simply a second time since the second time I read them seems like it's the first time through. I usually remember some thin vestiges of my original intentions and often find some phrase I'd until that moment forgotten I'd written. These discoveries please me, but they cannot be force-fed. I must take frequent breaks as if to savor the experience and to let the significance properly settle in. The effort seems all beginning and middle with no finish, for it seems as though I return each story to its seasoning marinate again after copyediting, the assembling manuscript just another stage of not nearly finished yet.

I do not hold a vision for what done might look like in the unlikely event it should ever appear. I understand that additional finishing touches will be required, but they seem far beyond my present reach. I'm still working with raw material or, if not precisely raw, only half-baked. The puppet picks up another puzzle piece from their marinating emulsion and painstakingly attaches it to its neighbor before setting it aside again to season further. The puppet wanders in wilderness, strings pulling his attention in every direction. He's continued writing, backfilling the backlog he spends the rest of his days attempting to empty. He perpetuates rather than resolves. He doesn't seem to have a middle in mind, let alone an end. Ends, he imagines, must also be emergent properties, never properly envisioned, only experienced.

The Muse suggested that I might need a vacation. I haven't taken more than an odd day since before the Damned Pandemic came more than three years ago. I've been noticing a certain lack of passion as I engage in my daily ablutions, as if I was just going through the motions. She convinced me we should travel to New Orleans for a long weekend, and I accepted. It might be that I will not be able to maintain my posting schedules in my absence. I might well miss my self-imposed deadlines. I might make only meager progress on my copyediting and manuscripting efforts while visiting, though I imagine myself finding fresh enthusiasm engaging in my same old somethings in unaccustomed surroundings. I've packed enough books to last me a month, and two pairs of walking shoes. I'm hoping to catch myself loitering down there.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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