Nothing to do with the books or movies. I am still going to re-read the books, though, if I can find the stomach for it.
No – this is to do with a mood that comes over me every so often and influences my thoughts, particularly my world-building ones. I call it the ‘twilight mood’ because it tends to come upon me during the evening, when every surface is caught between gold and shadows and it feels like, if you just wait and watch a little longer, you will learn secret things that might never be revealed again … or that you may be invited in for more.
It’s a very whimsical feeling, and comes with not a little heartache and nostalgia without a referent. And it feels like friends and adventure and comforting sleepiness, the vastness of the sky and your own bubble of doubtless, contented zest.
I don’t know that it’s a particularly good feeling for telling stories, though.
That feeling of waiting to see if you’re on the precipice of a mystery – well, it’s the waiting that gets tricky when trying to tell a story with it. Because waiting is static; seeing is passive, and it’s the anticipation of happening upon something, and the contentment of lingering in the moment, that go against the grain of conventional narrative wisdom, in which plots and character-arcs and three-act structure must always be progressing and travelling and it’s all very linear.
But that’s only one way to tell a story.
What about a character-study? What about world-building? I won’t pretend that I enjoyed Perdido Street Station, but it was a very strong piece of world-building and it has that same kind of ‘static’ feeling, only that book was just so damn dense that – well, let me put it this way: I read three other books while trying to get through it. Not every story has to focus on the progression of a quest narrative, traveling from point A to point B, at least not in the same way. I’m thinking of stories like On the Road and Alice in Wonderland; it’s the journey, not the destination, and even then it’s not even the journey but the company you keep. It’s crossing alien boundaries with somebody you’re intimately familiar with, which gives you both a sort of immunising blanket of protection from culture-shock as well as a mirror of your own wonderment to further ignite your own.
I just want to make it work because I love this feeling, and it feels so vital to me, and has for a long time. I do take note that the times when I’ve felt things similar to this the strongest have been times in my life when I felt more shut-out from the rest of the world, but tonight at any rate it’s the opposite; I got this feeling because I felt more connected, more involved. And I can’t help but think that this mood comes from observation more than wishful thinking.
And any story worth its salt is a least partly the result of good detective work.
Moods are such powerful things. I even want to take this mood and infuse some of it into Tallulah, and in the moment it feels like it would give it ‘the missing ingredient’, the mortar to hold its many bricks in place.
I really need to get onto reading it again. But maybe I actually just need to read and consolidate the notes I’ve made on it. Maybe that’s enough for what I want to do next.
And I really don’t want to try and make it more than it needs to be.
As for this twilight mood …
I trust it. It’s given me a few story premises that I really like, world that I’d be interested in building, so – why not?
I also had a dream about Batman in which he had a different mask and I tried to draw it and it didn’t turn out right. Oh well. It never does. But that’s okay.