Sunday, August 26, 2012

Starting anew

New semester. New MFA writing. I have been away from this blog during the summer, not for any reason in particular, except for moving to a new home and undergoing some minor medical stuff. The fall semester has begun; a good excuse if any to dedicate time to this thing.

I read over the weekend as I recovered from surgery Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, which I will focus on in more detail in a following blog entry. I’m still processing it twenty-four hours later. Deep, dark, heavy, bleak, cold. The commentary on the value of religious belief, human nature, compassion, survival instincts, father-son relationships, trust, and the downfall of human civilization. To dissect McCarthy’s writing style at this moment is a massive undertaking I’m not prepared to take on for this blog, at least not today, but his rule-breaking and the resulting creative freedom is something I can cherish and learn from.

Unusual sentence structures. The lack of quotation marks for dialogue and apostrophes missing from certain conjunctions, like “havent” and “didnt.” The subtle convergence of inner dialogue, dreams, and third person narrative, which occasionally slipped into first person. All to tell the story exactly as McCarthy intended. The first few pages required some adjustment to the odd style, but I fell quickly into his post-apocalyptic world, his style providing foundation and lending to atmosphere rather than creating disruption. His disruptive style became my normal as the reader.

My take away is simple. Style, whether or not rules are intentionally broken, is as much a key part of the story as the characters and plot. Another tool in the writer’s toolbox, to borrow from Stephen King, that creates the indisputable uniqueness of a writer.

The Road has set the stage for an intriguing semester of new writing, new methods, new experiments with style. The perfect kickoff.