Abrupt Edge Diary - 15

This is the fifteenth in a series about the construction of the novel-in-progress, Abrupt Edge

14.  The risk

I have indeed been cobbling the bits together and tonight, starting on the sixteenth chapter of the third version, I am reminded of Martin Buber’s paean, in I and Thou, to the creative act.  In it he slips in a little warning: “. . . if I do not serve it [i.e., the creative work] properly, it breaks or it breaks me.”

Here is the thing:  I have no idea if my idea for this novel is going to work.  The story changes as the characters unfold.  It was going to be my Sanctuary (see Abrupt Edge Diary-4, the post of 11/15/08) and I have succeeded in getting some of the elements of Faulkner’s work into Abrupt Edge, like a virgin being raped, and her being installed in a brothel, but Asenath’s not standing still for being a degenerate—or is she?  She’s turning out to be a madam with a mission.  It’s not about making dough from the bodies of young women, it’s conquering men, the males of the species, by teaching them . . . sensitivity.

But what is the nature of what she’s doing?  Asenath is only incidentally making money off the bodies of young women, but she’s still defying a lot of the world’s moral imperatives by being the factotum who manages the main industry of this exotic world:  assuaging the sexual needs of fat cats in the most grandiose way imaginable.

And more and more I am heading in the direction of writing a novel about moral relativism and moral objectivity.  Not about, in the sense of preaching a sermon.  I’m not, in the name of art, advocating any particular set of moral standards.  I personally find the notion of hiring a prostitute, renting the orifices of a woman’s (or a man’s, if that’s your persuasion) body, to be repugnant, but I know there have been prostitutes since long before Judah met Tamar.

So, is this a dodge, telling a titillating story in the guise of treating a philosophical question?  It better not be, or I will find myself to be broken.

Next post I plan to delve into what I consider to be a fiction writer’s biggest bugaboo, namely VerisimilitudeOhh, eeeh, ahh.

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