11 March 2013

New author blog.

Copyright © 2013 Bob R Bogle

Look for future posts about this subject matter here.

27 February 2013

What I forgot. End of first chapter. Max falling asleep.

Copyright © 2013 Bob R Bogle

Dark in the room.  Silent.  Unfamiliar surroundings.  Imagining flashes of ancient rifles in the dark night, sudden loud cracking shots fired from who knows where.  Quantrill's pistol.  Holes blown in bodies.  Violence.  Betrayal.  No legislatures had yet voted to secede.  Death.
Effects subtend causes.  Remember metaphysics, my freshman year?  A mistake.  The philosophical mind proscribes the clinically empiric.  Concepts, physical things digested away in elemental words.  Abstracted abstractions.  No causalogist, I.  Con-sequentiality in time and con-tiguity in space.  Tangere, to touch.  Necessity.  Sufficiency.  A thermodynamic demiurge.  Consequential sputtering sparking arc weld flashing linkages between events effacing time's arrow, I argued.  Progressively, emphatically squeeze down the interval, a calculus of limits, and expunge time from consideration.  Charlie in that class, too.  Correlation does not necessarily imply causation, he said, except in certain states where required by law.  Quantum mechanics throws it all into doubt anyway.  All grows fuzzy.  And the overwhelming human demand for reductionism.  Oversimplifying complexes of contributing effects or events, hungry for that one critical final lasting eternal keystone cause, almost always to confirm preexisting notions or buttress an axiomatic moral framework.  A host of ingredients contribute to the mulligan stew.
Tired.  I cant.  I just.
Is history causal?  We assume.  If not a longitudinal, linked chain, can history exist?  Sterile concept.  Chaos otherwise.  If a butterfly flutters its wings.  History is a vast river system of causes and none of them proximate, all of them necessary, none of them sufficient.  All time immanent in a defined space.  A loaf.  Bulk.  That's history.  Who we are, and why.

26 February 2013

Writing Technique.

Copyright © 2013 Bob R Bogle

I am at present working on the second chapter of Memphis Blues Again.  I thought I'd take a moment to display some of my writing technique, if it can be called that.

Some writers simply write all the way through a manuscript and then go back and try to bang it into the shape of a story.  To some degree I do the same, but in later drafts I'm also continuously going back to earlier chapters and making small, subtle changes as I go along, or jotting down notes of things to include in later chapters.  The idea is to bring out certain details, or to add material at a convenient place that I'd previously neglected or forgotten, or simply to try to improve the rhythm and musicality of the text.  For MBA I've chopped the original draft into a myriad of pieces and rearranged their order into a new outline which I'm assembling from the original text even while I'm taking a good deal of the expository material and dramatizing it in the form of new characters, so quite a lot of additional "writing" is involved too.

A few days ago the first chapter included this paragraph, a memory sequence engaged in by my protagonist, Max Bainbridge:

Wilson's Creek and Pea Ridge drew their attention away, though. Politicians and ambitious officers.  Promised glory painted across the skies, painted with unnumbered sparks, all fire and shine.  They sensed in the moment's fury better ways faraway to do bigger things.  A never-ending parade of padishahs and suzerains imposed in northern Missouri like a row of carnival shooting ducks, and legitimate, demoralized conscripts vying with Jennisons and Montgomerys in Kansas hell-bent on paying their way out of tyranny with blood.

Although I've moved on to other matters, already this has morphed into the following, with changes marked:

Wilson's Creek and Pea Ridge drew their attention away, though.  Politicians and ambitious officers.  Promised glory painted across the skies, painted with unnumbered sparks, all fire and shine, the Siren's song resonant in the tide-haul of adrenalin and testosterone.  They sensed in the moment's fury better ways faraway to do bigger things.  Bronze stars and golden.  A never-ending parade of padishahs and suzerains imposed on northern Missouri like a row of carnival shooting ducks.  Guerrillas successfully tying down big chunks of the Union army with unpopular, unhappy and neglected occupation forces stranded in the rear, far away from any opportunity for triumphant laurels or promotion.  The butt-end of the war.  And in Kansas professional but likewise demoralized federal conscripts vying with Jennisons and Montgomerys, them hell-bent on paying their way out of tyranny with blood, or just on spilling blood, and meanwhile turning a tidy profit.

No doubt this is not the final version, but itself only a transitional phase of the process (in fact I've made a few changes while writing this blog post).  This sort of shuffling, or refining, or digesting, goes on continuously when I'm rewriting.  This is why writing has, to me, come to feel more like creating a sculpture than painting a two-dimensional picture in words.

And a few of the new items in my notebook, to remind me of things to do much, much later; changes which have very little to do with plot or characterization, which so preoccupy nearly all readers (if the writer's properly done his job):

20130225 1111 hr  Have somebody say this:  "I guess the only thing more dangerous than a man armed with a gun is a man armed with a principle.  But without principles a man's life aint hardly worth livin'."

Note that I have no intention to use this quote exactly as scribbled into my notebook, but the idea is there.  This would have to come somewhere pretty far into the story after a great amount of Civil War hardship has already taken place; possibly on the march to Atlanta or Savannah which, at present, would put it in Chapter NN or RR; that is, chapter 39 or 43.  If I can find this note then it will be something of a miracle.

20130226 0632 hr  Charlie at some point on the first day's drive makes a glancing allusion to The Outlaw Josey Wales.

This curious note is simply to demonstrate in an almost undetectable way – in about chapter I, or chapter 9 – that one of my main characters possesses at least sketchy knowledge of the Kansas-Missouri border war from having seen old westerns.

No wonder it takes me so long to write a book.


23 February 2013

10 February 2013

Slavery distribution map, 1860.

Copyright © 2013 Bob R Bogle

A great amount of information here to ponder.  I must admit I wasn't expecting to see so much slavery in Texas, although if normalized by acreage that may be deceiving:  I haven't done the math.  Note how slavery distribution tracks the Missouri River in Missouri, which helps account for the history that unfolded in that state during the Civil War.  (If you right-click and open in a new tab, you can see the map and its data much more clearly.)

09 February 2013

Blanche Kelso Bruce.

Copyright © 2013 Bob R Bogle

I'm very happy this morning to discover that Blanche Kelso Bruce has family ties that connect him to Memphis Blues Again.  For those who doubt the existence of a vast, suppressed history, know that this half-black man was nominated for Vice-President of the United States in the Republican Party in 1880, 128 years before another half-black American attained the summit of the Executive branch.