Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Does dyslexia extend to thoughts?

Sometimes I start in on a story thinking the characters are who they claim to be but then begin to realize I've got them backwards.  Not something as simple as thinking they're good when they're really bad or vice versa, but motivations and intentions and meaning can suddenly be reversed and make a hundred times more sense in the whole schematic of the tale being told.  It doesn't happen often, but when it does I get lost for a little while and have to thrash my way back out of the forest into the sunlight to regain my bearings.

I have some examples...but I honestly don't want to share them because I think they'd mess with people's ideas about my writing.  Well...I do have one I can reference -- Curt in "How To Rape A Straight Guy."  When I first started writing the book, I built him up as a dangerous man on the verge of madness, with a rage that is overwhelming him, and that is still in there.  Plus I knew it was heading for a nasty showdown but didn't know exactly what until he suddenly made a connection with one of his victims that startled even him.  Then he shifted from a rabid dog into a wounded animal and his life was opened up to me, even though he really did not want it to be.

No question what happens in the story is still way out there, but Curt's reversal took the book back from being mere erotica and into something more meaningful.  Well, to me, anyway.

This has me wondering if I was always meant to write books and just got myself focused on movies because of my art background.  In school right up through college I took classes in art.  I sketched and painted and fought with teachers over my work and could see myself as a starving artist out to be the next Picasso or even de Kooning.  But in high school I began to write and draw out odd little comic books that I never finished.  I also wrote short stories in long hand, in pencil, on a yellow pad -- including one about a serial killer that my English teacher really liked.  I was heavy into mysteries at the time and especially liked the Ellery Queen series.  I'd just finished reading "Cat of Nine Tales" and tried something similar, and he felt my story could have been a full-fledged book.

But then I just stopped and kept on with the art.  And then with film.  And then with screenwriting.  Paying minimal attention to the narrative writing except on rare occasions.  I can see why; I'm a visual person, sometimes tactile but not really very intellectual or honestly aware of how life functions.  I mean, I'm not incapable of coherent thought, it's just not my first choice...rather obviously, at times.  But now that I write books I'm finding myself trying to build an artist's image with movement and sound in the mind of a reader and have no idea if I'm really being successful because I don't have the reference points most people carry to tell me when I'm being an idiot and when I'm not.  I just have this gut reaction when something's right in my work, and I could no more explain why it is than I could quantum physics.

I guess my point finally focusing on my deepening dyslexia, I'm seeing things I didn't see before in my writing.  And wondering if I've been neglecting it for no more reason than part of my brain just isn't where it needs to be.  It's just vanished.  So if anyone sees it running around, would you please point it back in my direction?  It would be nice to be whole of mind, again.  For a while, anyway.

And if you think this whole post is meant to mean anything, then you should have YOURSELF checked for dyslexia.

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