For nine weeks we’ve been going through our new series in moral education. But while these were not the easiest pieces of the whole, they were the most straightforward. At the same time I was writing them, I was waiting for a clear pattern to emerge for the whole series. Writing is that way, sometimes: You don’t see what it really is, until you’re well into it.
That clarity was slow in coming, however. That’s wasn’t terribly surprising to me; it’s my experience that those things that are truly new involve slow, difficult births. And the case being that no one has tackled this job in a long time – and not in any way that impressed me even then – I was pretty sure it would be a long labor.
In the meanwhile, I’ve looked for hints and models, from old collections of fairy tales, to old treatises on moral education, to the parables of Jesus. Nonetheless, I still don’t have a clear model, save that the attitude I had while writing The Valley seemed important in some way. But even so, it doesn’t seem to extend to other subjects very well.
And so, here we are. Having raised multiple children into adulthood, I have plenty of raw material to work with, but I haven’t any sort of themes to work from. I remain convinced that this is necessary material and that it needs to be brought back into the world, but I don’t have a form for it.
What’s left to us, then, is improvisation. To use a musician’s metaphor, we’re switching from sheet music to free-form Jazz.
I’ve never done this in public before, but there’s a time and place for almost everything, and while the style of this series may run all over the map, I know the content is important, and so I’ll proceed. When the project is done I’ll turn it into a book that’s hopefully a bit more stylistically coherent.
Until then… be ready for some literary bebop.