Title: Strings

Takeaway: Entanglementality.

Seat: Back

Logged: 29 May 17 (Monday in the PM)


Time: 2 minutes

Replies: 50

Revisions: 19

Publicity: Superfeed

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You had just finished your performance on a large stage at the university. Now you sat in the back, your unwieldy black case lying comfortably across your legs, and an old carpet of yours doubled over itself beside you. I went to turn the radio up before you spoke. It was ABBA. I was sure you said, “It’s a wondrous night,” so I awkwardly replied, not really accustomed to using that word myself, “It is wondrous.” You then said, “Excuse me?”, as if I was the one who started in on conversation. “It’s a wondrous night,” I began again, this time like I really knew how to say wondrous. Glowing now, like we were in the middle of call and response improv, you replied, “Yeahess’ss,” in some otherworldly way, laying bare the sinuous nature of an often overdressed word (yes) of secluded syllables. I’d learned early in this on-again off-again road trip that some people have a feel. That feel sets the tone, and the tone creates a mood. “Every feeling you’re throwing is a boomerang you’re throwing.”

We got a warm, light wind through the windows at about 25 mph, so we cruised at that speed for a while without talking. Our call and response became a dance of postures. You seemed to enjoy the air. You had a light smile like you were enjoying a moment from your concert in retrospect. I dangled my arm out the window, enjoying the wind on my shoulder and face. You lowered the window further and rested your head back. This was the perfect moment to propose and plot an evening caper with you. It would be a meeting of the minds beginning with music, of course. Moments passed, but my fantasies did not. I adjusted into the restful but anticipatory silence enjoyed by a host before introducing another round of musical compositions. And then I asked, “You wouldn’t mind playing another set for us, would you?”

You gave a breathy “Ha!”, and then with a wide, closed-mouth grin, you tilted your head in a customary way that seemed to say yes, of course, or why not. As if by magic, you produced the instrument without a sound and sat upon your carpet, seemingly without moving.

Despite the crow’s course for a destination set by my GPS, I felt as though we were beginning to drift. Riding that way was truly the only way to ride: a sustained zephyr on our faces, the vibrations of ancient strings taking whipping about, taking the wind into us.

“Sitar,” I said plainly. You played on for a few minutes. “Set-,” you stressed, correcting, and after allowing a natural repose. Then again, in a kind, musical voice, after plucking once more in way that seemed to crack the ether wide open, you enunciated the full name like the instructor to a young student, “Setar.”


Horse » Authorship
Horse » 2:18 PM 15 Feb 18
Horse » 11:55 AM 15 Feb 18
Horse » 11:50 AM 11 Feb 18
Horse » 6:03 PM 20 Nov 17
Horse » 1:32 PM 14 Jul 17
Elk » 6:06 AM 14 Jul 17
Horse » 5:02 PM 13 Jul 17
Horse » 4:20 PM 13 Jul 17
Horse » 3:20 PM 13 Jul 17
Horse » 2:13 PM 12 Jul 17
Horse » 1:55 PM 12 Jul 17
Horse » 12:45 PM 12 Jul 17
Horse » 11:40 PM 10 Jul 17
Elk » 9:23 PM 29 May 17
Horse » 5:43 PM 29 May 17
Horse » 5:41 PM 29 May 17

The Thread (50)

 Author's voice in grey. 

  1. I dug in with suggested edits – check the revision. Mostly what I sought to do was tighten the language so it had the pluck the piece otherwise elicits.

    Would of course take all thoughts.

  2. The edits seem to make it more of an Elk than a Horse. I think I’d prefer some suggestions (like helping the Horse find his own way) to edits. Using previous for example, in that way, is totally the call of the Elk. I’ll take the edits as suggestions and return to this later.

  3. It’s about the revision tool versus replies. It’s much easier for the suggestor to use revisions; but it’s much easier for the author to consider a reply.

    The clot thickens.

  4. It’s about primacy of presentation. The suggestion tool is ideally used the way the Elk uses it. That’s what it’s there for, and it has the benefit of demoing the suggestion for the author. No need to try it out, except as the reader.

    But the suggestion should be presented as such. Some sort of red flag, like “Suggestion Available”. The Author should need to accept the suggestion for it to gain primacy of presentation. That’s what the author wants, and the readers want to hear the author’s voice.

    That said, I’m into this piece.

  5. Very true, @falcon. Another item for the wish list.

  6. I think we’ve all learned in the past that no author – not even Elk – appreciates newly minted work being changed, even with the best of intentions. Suggestions through comments might be a pain but are far more effective with respect to respect.

    That said, I like everything about this piece but the last line. It’s a little much.

  7. Rooster’s Rule No. 1 in effect.

    So @bear @falcon — you like the piece as edited, or original?

  8. @bear — I agree on the application of Rule No. 1.

    @elk — I’ve only read what’s on the front page.

  9. @horse — There you go; task at hand.

  10. I didn’t see any substantive changes in the edits.

  11. You were right about the last line. But I just realized I had put that there as a placeholder. I worked it into the beginning of the last paragraph.

  12. I made changes of substance. I’m nearly ready to move on to a new one for now.

    Animals, what kind of reader do you think your writing has in mind? What kind of reader do you assume my rides have in mind? I’ve thought about this occasionally, sometimes while I’m writing even, but it’s probably more or less unconscious most of the time. Even so, because Rides are on a channel, there should be enough consistency to appeal to a kind of repeat visitor. That might be someone who doesn’t mind a slice of life without all the toppings. You know: reasons, explanations or conclusions, wit, humor, absurdity, suspense, irony, gore, sizzle or spice. They’re OK with a moment’s meditation. They’re even OK with a cliche. They just like knowing what’s going on out there sometimes — not the news nor the live feed, and not the viral nor the blockbuster, necessarily. But a glass of water while looking out the window is just fine.

    I think a lot of writers get trapped writing for writers. I’d rather not.

  13. Precisely the point I am making over here. I like that you’re thinking about who, not just what — I can’t imagine writing and not thinking about reading. I mean, WTF?

    I think you’ve nailed this channel. I think everybody thinks you have. Almost by definition a channel calls for an audience. It’s why channels get made here and everywhere. The success of this particular channel is because it is at once sufficiently pedestrian, yet substantially insightful, so as to reach the coveted en masse. I actually think Todds fit that pattern, which is why I’ve pushed to channel them.

    Our esteemed friend @bear will say en masse readership is not to be coveted, but that’s because he hasn’t caught up with the cyclical trends of contrarianism — currently it’s all the rage to pretend you don’t care, and it has been for about 20 years, around about since Nirvana took the stage. (It is rooted in punk, but became popular in Seattle through Sub-Pop.) Bear will say he’s not contrarian, and that he’s just Bear — but that neglects to account for the inceptive fact that Bear is contrarian.

    To be truly contrarian would be to seek one’s readership authentically, but intentionally. That’s where I’m at. It’s the honest truth of the writer, yet almost every writer lies about their intentions, even if only to themselves.

    @falcon — School me/us on the musical origins of counterculture.

  14. Love the pigeonhole you’ve put me in, but I’m not a contrarian just because I don’t agree with you, Elk, or you, Horse.

    I’m thinking about one reader when I’m writing, and that’s me. Call it selfish, but I do this for enjoyment. If I wasn’t such a cynic I’d call it a passion. I’d do it regardless of readership or Rooster Land.

  15. I’d also like to point out the ridiculous notion that I “don’t care.” If I didn’t, we’d have no argument. We seem to care about very different things.

    I could easily say that you “don’t care” about good writing, but only about reaching the coveted en masse and making a buck. But I’d never do that.

  16. I care about neither one nor the other in isolation, only both together — the holy grail, reaching people with good writing. It’s a failure to push people off, even if you’re convinced you’ve written something brilliant. In fact, that’s just called narcissism.

  17. I put the question down because I felt self conscious about a cliche I used. It caused me to question who I’m really writing for: my fellow writers (who would oppose a cliche) or someone who doesn’t read very much (and certainly doesn’t write) and wouldn’t mind that and possibly even lap it up. And I thought to myself, I respect rigor, but I kind of want to talk to someone who doesn’t even know what a cliche is. You know what I mean?

  18. I do, Horse. But to me, that lacks integrity and doesn’t respect the reader very much.

    In that line, I’m certainly not trying to push people off, Elk. I guess I’m writing for probably-imaginary like-minded people. It’s not quite narcissism. Maybe a click or two away.

  19. Imagining a reader is natural. Defining and aiming for a demographic is something else entirely.

  20. Well said. The business of writing vs. the writing business.

  21. Here’s a not totally irrelevant blastfromthepast.

  22. Somehow you’ve gotten from wanting to touch readers to wanting to make money. I have no idea why or how. I have nothing to say about money and writing. I have a lot to say about communication, emotional connection, enlightenment, etc. I am already enlightened as to myself, emotionally aware of myself, and in communication with myself — I gain nothing from writing for myself. When I make those linkages with and offerings to readers, however, the experience of writing becomes whole and complete, and bilaterally/exponentially rewarding.

    Enter Rooster Land.

  23. I honestly don’t buy any of that. I think we all, you included, write to discover things about ourselves. Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe there’s no self-discovery going on in your work. Maybe that’s why I think it’s at times overwrought and a little bit preachy. Maybe you rethink the entire endeavor. Who knows.

    But to say that you haven’t conceived of Rooster Land in the past in a monetized capacity, and almost wholly in those terms, is disingenuous. I made the leap to money because you’ve already laid the foundation of the bridge.

    I’ve had these very conversations in the past with others regarding audience and content. I would think that the sort of “old friends” dynamic we’ve all got going here, that’s evolved in RL, would preclude
    that kind of thing. I don’t see us in any way right now as doing anything other than writing to stay sharp, for enjoyment, and maybe for posterity.

    But again I could be wrong. It seems you want to enlighten people as you believe you are enlightened. It seems all yet again to come down to the very different, nearly mutually exclusive reasons we’re doing this at all.

    Funny how that works.

  24. @horse — CTR. I made word choice and style changes that I think dial things up a notch, and that I hope more than anything show my appreciation of and care for this piece.

    Also superfed it — feeling a gem by the end.

  25. As for Bear’s latest thought — what we’ve conceived for RL (together, mind you) is quite apart from why it perpetuates. It doesn’t continue to draw words out of us because I or we once talked about how to make it self-sustaining on a resource basis. That actually reads like nonsense. Rather, we continue to gather round it because we connect through it.

    As for enlightenment, I don’t believe just I am enlightened, and that I should write so as to be a rare enlightening force. How quaint! We’re all enlightened as to something, if not only personal experience — and if all could write each’s up well enough to touch, I’d try to read them all.

    I’ve never cared much for a false sense of humility. All of us are humble to some things and powerful to others. It’s knowing the difference that matters; what convenience is there in denying any or all of us the value of your powers? And who the hell are you to say you have none?

    I’ll put it again as I always have — I write to communicate.

  26. Last thoughts on this:

    That it reads like nonsense is exactly right. I’ve been trying to tell you that for awhile. If any financial benefit befalls us, it will come primarily through the very nature of our writing to and for each other, and to and for ourselves.

    I would never advocate for a false sense of humility, but an actual sense of humility.


  27. I think you misunderstand the nonsense. It’s not nonsense to discuss means of support — this site didn’t fall out of thin air with a sitar for a soundtrack.

    It is nonsense, however, to say the reason I write is for money because I or we once discussed means of supporting RL. It’s non sequitur, in fact.

  28. Nice try.

  29. Nice try.

  30. My comment above, for what it’s worth, has nothing to do with money. That part exists on either/any side. See, e.g., Rules of the Game.

  31. “[I]maginary like-minded people” I assume sums up most unread writing, and most daily self-talk as well, and it’s the echo chamber I’d prefer not to write in all the time.

  32. But it can very easily be transferred to actual like-minded people by entering the public forum (which I’m sure we all do in our own ways outside of this group). We don’t know who exists or what they’d like.

    I just think it’s silly to think about unless your goal is to sell your work. And maybe even more so then.

  33. Why not write grocery store books? People love them and they’re full of cliches.

  34. It’s fine to have been caught in a cliche, by the way. It happens.

  35. Also, as not one of us has been a particularly successful commercial writer, I’d say we all know jack shit about how that kind of writer thinks.

  36. Why not write grocery store books?

    I would happily. In fact, that is the very image I often have when I’m thinking about my reader. Now you know.

  37. I’m not dying to be part of some literary club. Give me the person who knocked a book off the grocery store book-stand by accident while deep into some cheap magazine at 10:53 am on a Tuesday.

  38. I disagree that “‘imaginary like-minded people’ . . . sums up most unread writing.” And I simultaneously believe your sole intention can be to make money and that to do so you imagine your reader to be like-minded. Further, I believe your sole intention can be to make money and that to do so you frame your writing to appeal to those who are not like-minded.

  39. Horse, I think one of us is in the wrong place.

  40. Not asking purely for the sake of busting chops, and while an interesting conversation piece, why is it so important to nail down One Law of Writing Motivation here? Can each not have his own, with the result being a collection of pieces from a group of authors who differ in style and content?

  41. @bear – Both in the write place, though.

    @rabbit – Not trying to nail down anyone else’s.

  42. The answer to that could be yes, but I always get the feeling that I’m being critiqued for not thinking in an audience-friendly way. It’s actually not just a feeling, but in the replies. Check the last Todd.

    Here’s the thing: if “like-minded” means, for me, people who, among other things, don’t like commercially designed writing, then the sole-purpose-of-making-money motivation is invalid. This isn’t to say I don’t like writing that has produced money, but that very little good writing is accomplished in that way. Maybe I’m being naive, but I’m okay with that.

    I also obviously don’t believe Horse. I think your pride’s a little stung from the cliche. And you know what Marsellus Wallace said about pride.

  43. I definitely see blood on me but I’m checking for the wound and I can’t find it. Step back and take a close look over yourself.

  44. Nothing. Must be ketchup.

  45. I agree with Horse on literary clubs versus grocery store customers – generally. It’s about reaching people. What difference does it make who?

  46. Did someone say Drake’s Cakes?

  47. And @bear, where did you come up with “commercially designed writing”? Who said anything about such a thing? All I sought in the last Todd – in future Todds, really – is a degree of character and plot development that feels natural to the human experience. I merely craved it and expressed that. I think that’s a success – and I encourage you to follow the trail.

    You seem to be saying, “No, fuck you. I don’t want to make you happy; I want to make me happy.” To which I might reply, “Why are you writing – don’t you already know what’s in your head, pal? And if not, can’t you go off and do this on a steno pad somewhere?”

    The whole thing about commercialism and money is a total straw man for Bear’s resistance to any responsibility for or participation in other people’s happiness. In some ways, I almost have to wonder if he’s not the archetype of a posthumously successful writer in this regard. It’s all very weird.

  48. Elk, there are some great stories out there that cover this very idea. Bartleby the Scrivener by Melville and The Overcoat by Gogol are very early examples of the modern writing dilemma you describe. Does the writer have a responsibility to make a reader happy?

    Here’s the thing I think you’re misunderstanding: I as a reader am happy to read things like Todd. I like experimental, non-traditional stuff. It’s all over my bookcase. So a good deal of what you’re saying I agree with – but you appear to not be the audience I’m trying to reach. Ironically, you’ve probably read more of my work than anyone.

  49. I would also argue that Todds have actually “gone” many places, that Todd, probably despite intentions, has become fairly well developed. But it has also gone places in other ways. That’s sort of the point – where it’s gone and where it continues to go, and in what ways. It’s not a character development series (as I’ve advised Horse Pony Rides should be…though maybe I’m wrong). It’s not a novel, in the tradional sense. I don’t want to say what it is, but I can tell you what it isn’t.

    Elk, you just seem hung up on getting something I have no interest in producing. Is that my problem or yours?

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