Volcanic Eruptions and Purple Prose

I started a new novella the other day. It began well from a purely eyes down, words per minute point of view. Like most of the prose I write these days (as opposed to academic writing where I used to plan, make a flow chart, look for supportive and critical references, do drafts and finalise in bored exhaustion), what I do is organic. One word leads to the next, decisions are taken at a less than conscious level most of the time and the story is revealed to me much as it will be to the reader. We are always warned by sages (most of whom have never written a fictional sentence even in jest) to beware our purple prose. If by that they mean sudden lurches into ornate, too clever by half, swamped with metaphor, writing, I agree. But most serious writers have those days when they are like the Romantic Poets and, in a purple haze brought about not by laudanum but a sudden transportation to the deepest levels of the imagination, their work explodes on to the page. Hours later they stare in unfeigned amazement at the ten or so alien pages that have appeared on their screens or in their note books.
As I said, I write organically. The story is plucked berry by berry from the thorny brambles of my mind. One thing leads to another and the pie awaits the totality of the picking, washing, cooking and baking. I suspect that the pie has always been there and I am unwrapping it, as if from a delicatessen. In Zen terms the pie is baking me. At the moment I have a story about a man who is given a short time to live. What does he do? It’s in the second person singular which I’ve never utilised before. It’s hard. I keep drifting into the third person and I have to go back and amend. But it’s curiously direct. Even more so than the ‘I’ of the first person. Anyway, he has met a drug dealer and a woman who researches the moment of death. All three are about to meet for the first time as a trio. I’m agog.

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