Saturday, July 11, 2009

An ever fix-ed mark...

I've been taking time out of my novel (and this blog, forgive me) to help a friend write a wedding.

I love writing weddings and this is the second nuptial outing for my pen. The first was my wedding to Kristin, of course. Though I was thankfully spared writing the sermon on that one.

In a word: nervewracking*.

If I write a passage for a short story that falls flat, the worst that can happen is that it doesn't get published. If I write a bum wedding, I ruin a good friend's "Most important day" and am branded forever thereby. It's fun and nerve-wracking at the same time and gives me all kinds of respect for the ministers and JOP's who write wedding homilies twice a week. (Not to mention the authors who manage to write decent schmaltz-free romance fiction).

When you're writing a wedding you get to say things that you normally cannot get away with in most genres of modern literature. You can freely speak of Romance and Destiny and the symbolism of the rings and grains of sand and the stars in the sky and the leaves on the trees. You can quote from Shakespeare at length and play merry hell with Sonnet 116 and A Midsummer Night's Dream. In short, I can say all the things that I don't get to say in other places because it's a wedding and the speeches and toasts and the entire ceremony are verbal bunting for the moment the rings go on the fingers.

Writing a wedding is strangely similar to writing a scene in any book, or on any stage -- it's hard to forget that this scene is actually more important to the participants than to the author. Which isn't something you can say if you write fiction... not if you're sane anyway.

This is the one time in the lives of most people that they do any stage managing, that they tell their friends and loved ones where to stand and what to say. And like any scene in a novel or play, the crux of the scene must be served by all the words around it. The aim and goal of every word, of every quote and prayer and unity candle -- every facet of the ceremony exists to build up to that moment and make that one moment the climax of the entire day. The rings going on the fingers and the sniffling newlyweds being fed their lines by the officiant must stand alone.

A wedding ceremony should be a happy meeting between the actor and the act and it should be the ultimate expression of the writer's skill in setting a scene and building toward the denouement.

This wedding ceremony was a collaborative effort between myself and the happy couple. They created an outline of the ceremony they wanted with their vows and words to one another and that set me free to work primarily on the prose and pacing. Slow this down and speed that up, add and subtract so that it would make the right people cry at the right times.

Until I say the words aloud tomorrow, I can only hope that I succeeded (though the bride cried when she read it, which is probably a good sign**).

I wish you a most happy and wonderful wedding day, Marissa and Charles. I was there when you met, and watched you fall in love. Which argues that you should know better than to put this kind of faith in a fool's pen. I hope that my words can in some small way encompass what you feel and not get in the way or provide any impediment to the marriage of your true minds.


* Well, I say it's one word and it's my blog.
** I hope

No comments:

Post a Comment

Pages to Type is a blog about books, writing and literary culture (with the occasional digression into coffee and the care and feeding of giant robots).