Alison Clement

observations from a novelist who sometimes wants to say something small and see it published immediately

Axolotl and the defiance of thought

axolotlI’ve been thinking about this one story since I was 22 years old, but I never wrote it before. Okay, I wrote a nonfiction version. I wrote a fictional third person version, told as a report. I gave it up. And then Kerry showed us the short story, Axolotl, by Julio Cortázar. And Margery said what Cortázar did, his method, was to take a subject and stick with it, follow it, bore into it. I do this sometimes without thinking, when the unconscious takes over. We all do it, I guess, when we let ourselves go. Anyway. I decided to write the story this way. To begin and follow it.  If I started to veer, to get in my head, to intellectualize or plan or worry, I’d recall the Axolotl, a creature that defies thought. And so, finally, I wrote the story. Hooray.

Some stories take such patience.

This week my students are writing down their dreams. We are trying to access the unconsciousness. I have not remembered a single dream since I’ve made this announcement. Oh, rebellious unconscious mind. Axolotl.

Categories: belief, reading, school, teaching, teaching writing, work, writing

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