While Editing a Manuscript

Someday there will be an easier way to edit a manuscript. The sentence by sentence, word by word, and conceptual doubt can creep in just when you think you’ve concurred the plot holes and ditches.It can drive a writer to suicide. Don’t panic, not this writer! Besides its only writing.

I pushed away from the dread and took a trip to Paris via the Gutenberg Project and let my finger navigate to the writing of Honore De Balzac, “20 May 1799 – 18 August 1850) was a French novelist and playwright. His magnum opus was a sequence of short stories and novels collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the 1815 fall of Napoleon Bonaparte.”( 1.)

Honoré de Balzac (1842).jpg
Honoré de Balzac (1842)” by Louis-Auguste BissonParis Musées. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

In particular his short story,” The Magic Skin” .It is set in Paris and follows the life of a amateur gambler who, after a dreadful loss, contemplates suicide. In my manuscript there is a character who also contemplates this same fate. He carries a burden and in the end, well lets just say his actions inadvertently corner him into a choice he had decided to abandon.

Here’s an excerpt from “The Magic Skin” where the protagonist contemplates the need to end his downfall.

He found himself immediately under the arcades of the Palais-Royal, reached the Rue Saint Honore, took the direction of the Tuileries, and crossed the gardens with an undecided step. He walked as if he were in some desert, elbowed by men whom he did not see, hearing through all the voices of the crowd one voice alone—the voice of Death. He was lost in the thoughts that benumbed him at last, like the criminals who used to be taken in carts from the Palais de Justice to the Place de Greve, where the scaffold awaited them reddened with all the blood spilt here since 1793.

There is something great and terrible about suicide. Most people’s downfalls are not dangerous; they are like children who have not far to fall, and cannot injure themselves; but when a great nature is dashed down, he is bound to fall from a height. He must have been raised almost to the skies; he has caught glimpses of some heaven beyond his reach. Vehement must the storms be which compel a soul to seek for peace from the trigger of a pistol.

How much young power starves and pines away in a garret for want of a friend, for lack of a woman’s consolation, in the midst of millions of fellow-creatures, in the presence of a listless crowd that is burdened by its wealth! When one remembers all this, suicide looms large. Between a self-sought death and the abundant hopes whose voices call a young man to Paris, God only knows what may intervene; what contending ideas have striven within the soul; what poems have been set aside; what moans and what despair have been repressed; what abortive masterpieces and vain endeavors! Every suicide is an awful poem of sorrow. Where will you find a work of genius floating above the seas of literature that can compare with this paragraph:

“Yesterday, at four o’clock, a young woman threw herself into the
Seine from the Pont des Arts.”

Dramas and romances pale before this concise Parisian phrase; so must even that old frontispiece, The Lamentations of the glorious king of Kaernavan, put in prison by his children, the sole remaining fragment of a lost work that drew tears from Sterne at the bare perusal—the same Sterne who deserted his own wife and family.

The stranger was beset with such thoughts as these, which passed in fragments through his mind, like tattered flags fluttering above the combat. If he set aside for a moment the burdens of consciousness and of memory, to watch the flower heads gently swayed by the breeze among the green thickets, a revulsion came over him, life struggled against the oppressive thought of suicide, and his eyes rose to the sky: gray clouds, melancholy gusts of the wind, the stormy atmosphere, all decreed that he should die.

He bent his way toward the Pont Royal, musing over the last fancies of others who had gone before him. He smiled to himself as he remembered that Lord Castlereagh had satisfied the humblest of our needs before he cut his throat, and that the academician Auger had sought for his snuff-box as he went to his death. He analyzed these extravagances, and even examined himself; for as he stood aside against the parapet to allow a porter to pass, his coat had been whitened somewhat by the contact, and he carefully brushed the dust from his sleeve, to his own surprise. He reached the middle of the arch, and looked forebodingly at the water.

“Wretched weather for drowning yourself,” said a ragged old woman, who grinned at him; “isn’t the Seine cold and dirty?”

You can read the rest of The Magic Skin

And do read Balzac’s other stories.He has influenced many writers through the years– including Mr. Poe– with interesting plots and characters struggling in their humanity.

Stop procrastinating!

Okay…back to work. All art is a gamble.

Copywrite 2014 Digestable Ink

(1) From Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honor%C3%A9_de_Balzac
Photo from:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honor%C3%A9_de_Balzac


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