Recently, a friend had a short story published in a magazine. I couldn’t wait till it came out—I’d read a few of her other pieces, and they all scratch right where I itch.
I love reading fiction by people I know. Like tripping with someone or sleeping with someone, there is an intimacy and seduction in storytelling. Just like the first time knockin’ boots with someone, the first time you experience how someone-you-know writes is all surprises, symmetries and swerve.
For me, there’s a connection between my writing and my living. When my lebensraum is flowing and peaceful, my mindset liquefies and calms, and my writing happens more better doubleplus good.
I’m working on a novel. This is the second novel I’ve attempted. I spent a year on the first one before…moving on, shall we say. No point beating a dead horse. Sometimes…dead’s better.
Whenever someone asks, “What’s your novel about?” I turn into a word cloud. All I can come up with are keywords for lumps of conceptual butter that’ve yet to solidify. Family. Destruction. Stepchild. Angels. Afterlife. Toy blocks.
Last year I was introduced to the radical writing tactic of not editing, but instead actually, simply, writing. I used to write a paragraph and spend a week editing it, cutting and polishing on a phonemic level. This is the literary version of Bedazzling your feces. I was so focused on the music of the words that meaning and narrative were neglected or absent altogether. Check out the following passage from a fairy tale I started sometime around 2006:
She begins in moist hills of greenish red, gently brushed by sweet susurrous winds. The sky above is a stolid, square blue. There isn’t a cloud to be seen, yet a gleaming rain falls, arousing the earth with coquettish, shimmerplop droplets. With each step the girl takes, the grass underfoot squeaks, a slick, squishy glissando.
Soon the hills melt to vast, flat fields, topped with a hazy, periwinkle firmament; silver-white clouds of shattered pearl lace the heavens. The girl notes a citrus scheme to the sky, a periwinkle quilt patched with random lemon-yellow squares, orange cubes, sheer sheets of lime. A honeyed piquancy speckles the air.
OK. Two things:
A) Why was it so very important to me to convey just how periwinkle the sky was?
B) Even today, I can’t tell you what a piquancy is—honeyed, speckling, or otherwise.
Now I just write story with no care for accuracy nor shame for sketching skeletons. I write and get it out and don’t evaluate. As much as possible I refrain from judging these first thoughts. Surrender reaction to creation and a major obstruction to process—i.e. product—is removed.
One of the coalescing forces of my fetal novel is the idea that the house the main characters live in is reacting to the stresses and energies of the family who live there. There is a parallel between the energies among the lives within the structure and the psychology of the structure itself. That’s what I’m clinging to right now. It’s not ornamented. But it also ain’t shit. Progress.
FLOTSAMS & JETSAMS & BEARS, OH MY!
–I seem to mostly write stories of magic and illogic and twists. I can trace this back to a few early childhood influences, including an episode of the 1980s Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV series. I still remember watching it with my parents, because it’s one of my only memories with them without my sisters being around, and because the ending blew my mind to the point that it still hasn’t properly healed. I remember the electricity I felt interrogating my parents afterward about the impossibility of the ending.
A professor once told me every writer writes the same story, over and over again. Or maybe she said they always explore the same thesis, or ask the same question. I try to be judicious with what I know and what I don’t. So I have avoided thinking too much about this up till now. But I’m beginning to wonder: why do I write the stories I write? What am I getting at? Why don’t I write the types of stories I don’t? Is that a limiting premise? Is it a fallacy to question what one’s product says about one’s process?
–My blog has been read in 44 countries.
Recently there’s been an upsurge in international readering. In 2013, my ratio of American to international readers was 11 to 1. So far in 2014, that ratio’s dropped to 2 to 1, and last week was the first week the majority of my readers were from overseas.
What was behind this trend? I wondered. Maybe the immutable laws of cultural exchange demanded I become America’s response to Justin Bieber. Was I going to leave my home country and blow up internationally? Maybe I’d get crunk and drink Sizzurp and drag-race around Saskatchewan. Maybe the world would come to learn what an ironically attractive lesbian I am. An ex-girlfriend who hates me once won a photography competition for submitting a series of black-and-white shots of me posing in a long black dress and jewelry (this was when I was 20 and looked better in the dress than she ever did).
(By the way, how many NSA triggers just went off by my use of the word sequence “blow up internationally”? Slow clap, NSA!)
Anyway, it appears I’m not being exchanged for the Biebs. The immutable laws behind all the foreign attention all deal with random Google coincidence. Three bits of Nakamura news from around the globe last week:
**#1-ranked American grandmaster, Hiraku Nakamura, began play at the prestigious Tata Steel chess tournament in the Netherlands. I debated including the modifier “chess” before “grandmaster,” lest you think American History X became a chess genius. But I suspect the KKK doesn’t count many Nakamuras among its members.
**Japanese soccer player Shunsuke Nakamura did a supercool trick with the bride-and-groom figures atop a wedding cake. Sanctity of marriage my butt:
**Hiroo Onoda died. Onoda was a Japanese soldier discovered 29 years after WWII ended living in a jungle in the Phillipines. Onoda’s death prompted remembrance of Teruo Nakamura, another Japanese soldier unaware the war was over discovered the same year as Onoda living on an Indonesian island, growing crops to survive. Teruo Nakamura was discussed in one of my recent blogs. Ergo…ich bin ein international superstar.
–In 2005 I decided to leave Buffalo. I ended up settling on two candidates: New Orleans or Wilmington, North Carolina. I chose Wilmington. A month later, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.
Last month I settled on two candidates for places to move to: the one-bedroom I’m currently in or a room-to-rent out east. As mentioned earlier, I use flow and peace to springboard into writing. I am so far superhappy with the new digs. Earlier today I was on my couch and straight ahead of me my entire line of vision was a clean organized space and my heart nearly burst with joy.
–You know what’s weird about my apartment? Since the day I moved in, it looks like somewhere I’ve lived, like, 4 months…but it’s only been 3 weeks. You know how after a while a place begins to look familiar? But it’s not instantaneous? Here…it is. Somewhere in an attic there’s a portrait of a house staying the same age, always, while this apartment always looks older than it is. Or something like that.