Monday, October 06, 2008

The Third Boulder

In the first chapter of AFTER DARK there is a myth. Three brothers are given three boulders to push by a god. Wherever the boulder stops, there they can build their house and live.

The youngest brother doesn't go very far and stops by the sea. He doesn't mind that he can't see much, at least he will be able to live on the fish.

The second brother stops a little further on, half way up a mountain in a forest. Again he says that he can't see much but can live on the fruit of the forest.

The third brother goes right to the top, there is nothing much here, and all he has to eat is moss, but from here he can see the world.

Putting the book down I picked up the latest edition of the Author and read a piece by Derek Johns, a literary agent at AP Watt, who has recently also published two novels: Wintering and Wakening. He wonders, given the low probability of 'success' (in terms of money or prizes at least), why people write novels, specifically why he writes novels; and decides it is because he likes creating something, and that he believes he is doing something worthwhile.

It is all to do with the view from the mountain, I think. It seems to me that novelists are like that third brother and feel compelled to push their boulder as far as it will go. Even though we know we will find only moss to eat when we get there, we are happy to keep pushing for that view from the top.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Susangalique said...

the bolder reference is really beautiful.

Mon Oct 06, 11:53:00 pm  
Blogger twitches said...

I've developed quite an appetite for moss. Although it is an acquired taste.

Tue Oct 07, 12:00:00 am  
Blogger jem said...

Great analogy, and I've always been partial to the whole notion of pushing boulder. Although I regularly feel like I'm a bit of a Sisyphus!

Tue Oct 07, 11:49:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Thanks S!

And hi again, Twitches - nice to 'see' you again. Heh. Yes, I think moss is underrated.

And Jem, yes, boulder-pushing is good! Except when it rolls back and squashes you. Hmmm ruined it a bit now, haven't I? :-)

Tue Oct 07, 01:07:00 pm  
Blogger Gordon McCabe said...

Is this anything to do with a rolling stone gathering no moss?

Wed Oct 08, 12:36:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Heh, yes, Gordon, I think the two are closely related.

Wed Oct 08, 08:15:00 am  

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