Last night, late, we read all the way through The Merewife again, just to be sure it was working. Back in '93, I was writing the piece almost exclusively to Bjork's first solo CD, and that was one of the tricks I used yesterday, to tease my brain back into that long-neglected story-space — I listened to the album, remembering that summer, everything I could recall about that summer, when I still lived in the little apartment on 16th Avenue South in Birmingham. Music has always worked wonders for me as a sort of associational mnemonic tool. Everything that I write sounds like something, because I always write to music. So, strong bonds form between a story and an album, a song and a chapter. In this instance, it allowed me to work backwards and find the feel of the piece again. We also watched O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and I fell asleep to The Two Towers about 2 a.m., right about the time Merry and Pippin were escaping from the Uruk into Fangorn Forest.
I'd intended to write something more this morning about the whole "self-indulgence" thing, particularly relating to the issue of accessibility and difficult texts, but now I feel like I'd only be squandering energy that's best reserved for writing the part of the story that has to be written today. Perhaps I'll get back to it tomorrow, as there are still a few thoughts on the matter (and related matters) that I'd like to get out. In the meanwhile, I direct you to some very astute comments by Hal Duncan (thanks, Gwenda), who writes:
The real problem is that such shorthand usage is indistinguishable from the sort of commonplace philistine critique of "show-offery" applied to anything which dares to be difficult, to risk incomprehension and resentment on the part of the reader for the sake of ambition. The critic may well be right. The book may be deeply flawed, it's aesthetic balance way off, because the writer's just plain failed to pull off what they were trying to do. But the word "self-indulgent" doesn't communicate that any more than calling the writer a poncy git does. And as an accusation of a lack of self-awareness on the author's part, of selfishness and unfounded pride even, it's about as personal as that sort of name-calling.
I disagree with him on a number of points, but nothing so profound that it prevents me from appreciating this as one of the most articulate and useful entries I've read regarding the Grand Esteemed Recent Controversy.