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The strange and the familiar : seeing beyond when we know

Prendergast, Julia 2011, The strange and the familiar : seeing beyond when we know, in The Ethical Imaginations : Writing Worlds Papers - the refereed proceedings of the 16th conference of the Australasian Association of Writing Programs, 2011, [Australasian Association of Writing Programs], [Byron Bay, N.S.W.], pp. 1-10.

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Title The strange and the familiar : seeing beyond when we know
Author(s) Prendergast, Julia
Conference name Australasian Association of Writing Programs Conference (16th : 2011 : Byron Bay, N.S.W.)
Conference location Byron Bay, N.S.W.
Conference dates 23–25 Nov. 2011
Title of proceedings The Ethical Imaginations : Writing Worlds Papers - the refereed proceedings of the 16th conference of the Australasian Association of Writing Programs, 2011
Editor(s) [unknown]
Publication date 2011
Conference series Australasian Association of Writing Programs Conference
Start page 1
End page 10
Publisher [Australasian Association of Writing Programs]
Place of publication [Byron Bay, N.S.W.]
Keyword(s) Ethical-editing
Discontinuity
Subconscious
Alterity
Summary My novel is a collection of interrelated stories. Each story is framed by the idiosyncrasies and prejudices of a different first-person voice. There are gaps in narrative time and there is disparity between the narrators’ voices. The result is a ‘discontinuous narrative’; this term describes the early work of Frank Moorhouse: ‘an innovative narrative method using interconnected stories’ (Griffith University 2011).
As I draft and re-draft the stories, I am forced to assess the interaction between the voices. I am aware of the disjuncture, and I ask myself: Why not tell the story through the eyes of one narrator? Why not choose a third-person perspective, an omniscient narrator who might collect all of the voices together, in a coherent way?
As I second-guess my approach, I realise that the splintering of voices feels like the right way to tell the story and, in this way, I approach the question of methodology. I am aware that a sense of disjuncture arises out of the medley of voices, but I also realise that the disjuncture is carefully constructed; it is not accidental. This is an intuitive judgement.
If I edit my novel ethically, I ask what the discontinuity achieves, rather than how it fails in the context of logic. This means that I recognise that the narrative begins from a place that does not worry about logic, and I realise that second-guessing the surface content of the narrative, from a rational perspective, may be counterproductive.
The conscious mind, fettered as it is with inhibitions, may fail to see that the logical track is not necessarily the most productive route. The conscious mind may not recognise that going off-track is the way forward and, perhaps, the only way that the story can become something other than what I, in my rational mind, believe that it should be.
Ethical editing means that I am attentive to my intuitive response to the narrative; it means that I tolerate incongruous elements of the narrative, even if they do not fit the criteria of logic.
Ethical editing is a meeting of minds (both mine); the fully conscious mind meets the work of the subconscious mind with surprise and approval, at best, skepticism and derision, at worst. The work of the subconscious mind is elusive but it need not be subjugated to logical, rational considerations, for this means that I delimit the work of the subconscious; it means I assess the discontinuity on the basis of an external operating system; it means that I impose certain criteria upon the surface narrative, criteria that has nothing to do with understanding why the discontinuity exists in the first instance.
Alternatively, when I pay heed to a primal moment of narrative composition, a moment that is not necessarily consciously determined or logical, I apprise the surface of the narrative as a metaphorical map, I attempt to engage with the possibilities for meaning that the map encompasses; this constitutes a quest for the unstable how of meaning attribution.
ISBN 9780980757309
Language eng
Field of Research 190402 Creative Writing (incl Playwriting)
Socio Economic Objective 970119 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of the Creative Arts and Writing
HERDC Research category E1 Full written paper - refereed
HERDC collection year 2011
Copyright notice ©2011, The Author
Free to Read? Yes
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30043853

Document type: Conference Paper
Collections: School of Communication and Creative Arts
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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.