Thursday, 7 June 2018

Error is Such an Ugly Animal

The past has always deeply interested me and so I write of it and in it. Huh? Yes, prior to publishing this very article it will be reread for any missed grammatical errors by a future self. I have no idea what she'll think but I can tell you this much: she won't change one single word, with the exception of maybe a missed comma or two or a misspelling. Though usually the past me (me now) checks before saving the finished copy and the back-up, because accuracy is important particularly if you're book or name-dropping, and as I think you might have noticed from previous essays (is that the right word? Check later- Ed) there's been rather a lot of that. This year. No, last year, as of when penned not published.
Readers, I confuse you. Purposely. How can I not when I myself - past or future – am in this state? That's the one thing I can say with certainty I'll be, though to what extent I cannot since that depends upon other factors over which I have less control, and such events as they occur may over or underwhelm me yet leave me somewhat at sea, and so this is the general state you'll find me in and under which I write. Write sometimes not very well and other times better, but as I said I don't, no stubbornly refuse due to some moral code, to rewrite what's written. Ever.
Once you begin to erase, you might as well redo the whole article. Which is fine if that's your design, but not if it's just because your eyes now are not the same ones you saw the piece through originally, because subtracting and adding to in a different mood alters the narrative and makes it altogether something other than it set out to be. It is what it is: that same space can be never be recaptured. And sometimes, though rarely, it improves on renewed association. Mostly, all you feel is indifference however, since you're unable to enter into the same spirit in which it was completed. Therefore readers, you are the judge and jury. But in this code I'm not alone as I do recall reading of at least one other writer (I forget his name though I'm 99% sure it was a him) who like me also resisted re-editing. (Was it Graham Greene? -Ed)
Yes, such revisions could elevate so-so prose to greatness, to success that you never dreamed of in a million years, but that for me has never been a goal. Or a dream. Not even as a path to being a better, improved writer, or at the very least known of. I really don't care about any of that. I'm not that kind of writer. Are any of us really? that sit day in, day out in a front of a screen tapping keys recording whatever waylays us. I don't even do that. I have a routine, sort of, which usually involves a few hours from late afternoon through to evening. My brain's not up it to in the mornings; it's primed for work, functional work of the administrative kind which yes, can include household matters, not the structure of prose.
Can I claim to write? when surely all I'm doing is putting words together and when those words have often been infiltrated by another writer's. Not their exact words, unless it's a direct quote, but their ideas and the thoughts they've subsequently given me. What this admission is not is a confession of plagiarism. No, it's more an exultation in another's words, fictional or autobiographical, and an unleashing of what that's inspired in me and maybe a reaching out to others, not that I'm convinced there's anybody else there. Is there? (I'll confirm the circulation figures later-Ed).
I don't mind if all I'm doing is talking to myself though; I've been doing that my whole life. You could say my love of words, which the English language is endowed with, has shades of religion. I wouldn't argue with that analogy or think it was somehow blasphemous; I mean, the Bible doesn't have pictures does it? (You may be going a bit far here -Ed) Well, my grandparents' cloth-bound bibles never did, nor have any I've ever glanced through in hotel room drawers. (Change the subject -Ed). The meeting place for this love is here, whether those works testing my powers of recall are amateurish or accomplished, where it is honoured in tones that are perplexing, depressing, philosophic and enamoured, and where error, unlike the old saying, is not such an ugly animal. (For the old saying, in full, see The Wrench, Primo Levi. -Ed).

Picture credit: Flood, 1996, Paula Rego