By Peter Turchi
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Additional resources for A Muse and a Maze: Writing as Puzzle, Mystery, and Magic
While it’s possible to forget, as we push ourselves to revise and improve, we write because both process and product give us—at least occasionally—delight. This book, then, is offered as a provocation, a companion, and a reminder of the joy writing offers. DIRECTIONS FOR ATTAINING KNOWLEDGE OF ALL DARK THINGS Creating order from chaos is the innermost room of a writer’s desire. — JOHN LE CARRÉ SOLITARY PLEASURES While fiction writers and their editors bemoan the relatively meager sales of literary fiction, and while poets wonder what they’re complaining about, there are other kinds of books that a large percentage of the population buy and put to use, but are reluctant to discuss.
The chapters that follow consider the tension between puzzle and mystery; the gaps and contradictions that make fictional characters nearly as complex as actual people; the writer as a magician, directing the audience’s attention away from himself and toward a created representative; the maze we find ourselves in when we try to follow the “narrative line”; and our desire, as readers and as writers, for challenge, as perverse as that sometimes seems. Appearing along the way are Jerry Seinfeld, Harry Houdini, Bruce Springsteen, The Wizard of Oz, Wassily Kandinsky, tangrams, famous Norwegians, reindeer hunters, and a disappearing elephant.
7 From Dante and Petrarch, Wordsworth and Shakespeare, John Berryman and Robert Lowell, there is no end of examples of poets who have chosen the sonnet as a vehicle for exploration. By sustaining an investigation of any aspect of content or form, we can learn to dwell in our work. To dwell—to reside—to inhabit. For Occupation – This – The spreading wide my narrow Hands To gather Paradise – — EMILY DICKINSON Sustained attention requires consciously resisting the temptation to keep moving, to get through a piece, to be finished.
A Muse and a Maze: Writing as Puzzle, Mystery, and Magic by Peter Turchi