TWO: INNER "TUBE TRAINING"

I scrolled past the diagram pages to the first page of longhand writing. This is what I read:

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14 January 2023
"I became pregnant by the seed of an idea too frighteningly ambitious to be my own. An entirely consensual encounter I had in the London Tube, nineteen weeks ago. It was a spontaneous,fleeting, but significant exchange with a stranger sitting across from me in the Tube. The stranger was a handsome young man who, I do not exaggerate when I say, was difficult to ignore because he was distractingly good-looking. Upon noticing that the top half of my left index finger is missing, he pretended not to notice (and I pretended not to notice that he noticed, since I am practiced in observing the effect of my missing digit on people when they first notice it).
This young man was reading a scholarly peer-reviewed film journal that I also happen to subscribe to, 'The Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television'.
This delighted me, and when Irealized that I had been delighted, that delighted me further, and I . It's not something I usually expect to see someone reading in the Tube. My facial expression probably betrayed that I was noticing him or the the journal or both; nonetheless he smiled back. This exchange of smiles happened, alas, just a few stops before I had to exit the train for my stop.
I could not resist at least saying hello to him, so as I stood (in uffish thought) I said, "Hello fellow film scholar! I too am a member of the IAMHIST," which is the International Association for Media and History, the publisher of the journal he was reading. I then added, for literary reasons, I have to suppose, "Do you think the filmic future shines?"
The young man's face lit up and he visibly blushed. He then composed himself and offered me all at once, a confident smile, his greeting, his most important wisdom to impart, and his good-bye, all in one elegant comment:
"It shines! It shines brightly!
It needs focus, refraction, redirection, shape, form, beauty, and a playground of signs.
Stories are necessary too, but the audience can and should make that part up; they always do a better job at getting satisfying answers.
If you've seen 2001: A Space Odyssey more than a few dozen times, (I'm sure you have), you already know that. Thing is . . .
You ought to not give up on adapting that concept back into writing."
I was flabbergasted, naturally, that this young man--
"I'm Ned by the way" he said -- ah okay then,
this young man, Ned, by the way, somehow knew already of my project and its very focus! Yikes. How?
My stop was coming up next so I stood up, now a little flustered. I was confused and worried about how he could have known about my secret work, (you know, the one I just call ænovel for reasons I won't enumerate here.
So I asked, "Wait, have we met before? I'm Emma -- but I have to get off at this stop."
He said in response, "I know," which freaked me out until, when I asked why, he said, "um . . . because you just stood up and walked to the door?" to which I laughed.
All of that was fine, and I didn't feel that anything was mysterious. Ned just knew what was likely to be my literary orientation, and was good at 'reading' the signs we all exhibit which display or betray our fundamental 'selves'. Nothing mystical or weird about that in itself.
But just as I exited the train (having minded, of course, the gap), and as the doors closed behind me, Ned called to me, "Emma! Genres CAN be broken. I've done it." and then, with not a second to spare, Ned added, "Ned Dotland!"

And the doors closed.




I've looked up every Ned Dotland on the internet, I think. None of them is him.
I seem to be nurturing an idea-baby that Ned Dotland and I somehow conceived something in the Tube that day. Whatever this is inside me, I feel like I'm not ready to give birth to it yet, and I feel the duty to feed it. It's my responsibility, in fact. I need help with it, though -- a Midwife of Mimesis or a Nurse of Narrative. No This baby is coming out any day now, and I have not even begun to plan for its arrival.
I've decided to solicit Charlie's help. He has matured immensely since we started working together all those years back, and I think he is finally ready to reciprocate my mentorship. Even though the brat won't, I'm sure, admit to ever having looked up to my craftwork, he obviously looks up to me. More responsibility. Something just nags at me, though, suggesting that Charlie is somehow exactly the right person to help me figure this out. I just hope I can get him to understand and embrace the vision of all this. If this literary baby is born with fangs and a top hat, that's exactly the literary baby we will embrace. Literary babies only sometimes survive childbirth; and the ones that don't are, of course, destined for lifelong suffering for being so different that acceptance by an audience will require great effort.
Most people don't give birth to literary babies; they usually adopt one or two. This is because authors feel less guilty about relinquishing their literary babies back to the adoption pool if that's where they got it in the first place. After all, the literary babies, once born, can't die. Literary babies just sometimes take very very long naps, sometimes for hundreds of years, sometimes for three years, sometimes never.
I'm also considering writing to Laurent Binet again, even though the asshole never wrote me back. On the other hand, maybe Charlie never actually mailed the letter like I asked him to. I prefer, I think, the second explanation.
I'm heading to Crystal City, Virginia for a week. I have hired a consultant to meet me there. I will not be returning until my baby is born. But I need Charlie's help and I don't know how to ask for it without stoking his ego into the dangerous condition of creative contentment. Charlie still doesn't get that our craft absolutely requires personal involvement, attachment, rumination, confrontation of facts, and THEREFORE pain! Charlie exhibits to me no acknowledgment of the perpetually unfinished work upon which we are called to labor. Forever. I think perhaps I also often see things Charlie misses too.
Perhaps we'll "see."
-EM
===
I think we will indeed see.

I'm not sure yet how to take Emma's private thoughts about me, and I'm even now slightly hurt and mystified that she would share this document with me. It has some nice things to say about me I guess, but the "Charlie exhibits to me no acknowledgement of" comment isn't accurate. Just because I don't have some fancy PhD in Semiotics doesn't mean I can't read. Or that I can't interpret signs.
Honestly, Emma comes off as a little arrogant in that entry, but I suppose I'm not her intended audience.
It's therefore so strange that she sent me this.