Challenge 587 Response
Listening to the Blizzard
with Oonah V. Joslin
In Oonah V. Joslin’s “Blizzard,” what point does the story make about the mental process of composing fiction?
That you can write yourself to a standstill. That the entire process is far from natural. That all writers are mad as a bag of brains. That staring at this screen for hours on end makes your eyes go funny. That snow tastes like venison?
What does it say about Oonah’s state of mind? More like, “That is one bewildering story!”
Thank you, Oonah! “Mad as a bag of brains,” eh? Or more fun than a barrel of monkeys, as the saying goes.
One of the Review Editors surmised that the story describes a case of writer’s block that gets out of hand. That seems reasonable enough. The solution to writer’s block — and the mental process of any composition — is what Paul Valéry says in the Challenge header: the dialogue between author and work.
All writers have to listen to themselves first, as skeptical readers, or no one else will listen to them. Picture yourself as a single actress playing a two-character play. The heroine (the writer) plays one scene, exits, does a quick change and returns as a villainess (the reader) in the next scene.
Heroine (triumphantly): “At last, my best-laid plans are all in place!” (Exits)
Villainess (enters, cackling evilly): “Not so fast there. Why did you spike the cheese and crackers rather than the punch? And that’s for starters.”
Copyright © 2014 by Oonah V. Joslin
and Bewildering Stories