Leyner panel

I went to a panel discussion at NYU tonight, mostly to see Mark Leyner. It was supposed to be about blasphemy, and what you can’t say in America anymore. However, it was moderated by this idiot law professor, and everyone on the board, except for Leyner and Todd Solondz, the director of Welcome to the Dollhouse, were completely stupid. The moderator kept asking these dumb theoretical questions about legal situations which had nothing to do with the greater ethical situation which we were led to believe was the topic. When they opened the floor for questions, one person had the balls to say that the whole thing was stupid and explained that they should have discussed the censorship methods really used to dumb down America “for the children”, like big corporations and unneeded legislation. He was immediately attacked by one of the idiots on the board for being an anarchist. After that, the whole thing fell apart, and the people asking questions were clearly outpatients from a schitzophrenia clinic who had lost their medication. It was very cool to finally see Leyner, but it would’ve been much cooler in different circumstances.

I was going to write more, but I have a splitting headache.


AfterStep, AfterSeattle

I have been editing Summer Rain. That means I am reading every chapter about a million times and trying to find the most minute of errors. I figure if I can do about a chapter a day, I will be okay. I also figure there’s no way I will keep up that pace for more than a week.

I went for a long walk today, about two miles round trip. I live vaguely near 181st and Broadway, so I headed south of there for about 20 blocks and then back. During the trip, I listened to the Henry Rollins album Come in and Burn in its entirety. Although this album never caught me that much when it came out about two years ago, it made more sense while actually walking the streets of New York City. The whole album is about the desolation and confusion of the big city, and I guess it never hit me while I was driving from Denny’s to Denny’s in Seattle.

Speaking of Seattle, I was watching the show Frazier tonight. I know it isn’t really filmed in Seattle, and in general TV writers don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about, but it felt strange to hear all of the vague references to Seattle geography and instantly know where all of them were. They didn’t throw any tough ones out – the U-District, Fremont, etc. but it reminded me that I’m not there anymore.

There are many times when I don’t really realize that I have left Seattle, or at least times when I think I’m still on some kind of extended vacation and my apartment will be waiting for me just the way I left it, even though everything from my apartment is here. Sometimes, there is the overwhelming feeling that I am in New York – it’s hard to be standing in Union Square or Penn Station and think anything else. But when I’m staring at a computer screen and listening to the same old CDs, it’s possible to enter this stateless feeling where I’m working hard and I think “after this chapter, I’m going to hop in the VW and go to Safeway.” It doesn’t happen so frequently that it is dehabilitating, but sometimes it freaks me out.

I’m still having trouble finding a writer’s group or any other writers around here. I realize that’s as stupid as saying “I’m having trouble finding any skyscrapers around here” but seriously, all of the things I’ve found on the web or in free catalogs are the 10-week beginner’s course thing. It’s the same deal everywhere – the teacher spends a couple of months telling you what to do and how to write an outline, blah blah blah. I want to meet with other writers and critique chapters and stuff. I guess if I look around enough, I’ll find something. Besides, I’m getting a lot done working on my own.

Ever mess with the AfterStep clock? It’s pretty neat, I like it. I’m too chicken to go with the whole AfterStep window manager, but the clock is neat.


Raining, editing ‘Rain

It’s raining today. I slept in, and now I’m having throuble getting my day started. I don’t really feel like doing anything, but I should get motivated and write. Some projects are slowly getting finished, leaving me with only a couple of major things left. I wrote my column for the next issue of Metal Curse, and finished a user guide for a company, plus that big trip essay is done, so now it’s just down to another freelance client, and Summer Rain.

I’ve begun a full edit of Summer Rain. I’m starting from chapter one, and moving forward at a crawl, to find all of the problems. The biggest problem is that the three books are stylistically very different, and I need to smooth that over. There are also some holes in book 2, and there are still structural problems in book 3. After some recent reviews of the last 15 chapters, I’ve realized that things need to be greatly restructured to make the story interesting and believable. And the dialogue in book 1 isn’t as great. So there’s lots of crap to be done. I’ve been pecking away at it, mostly reading and reviewing stuff, and there are parts of the book that I really like. I hope I can make the whole thing like those favorite parts.

I’ve temporarily given up on reading Henry Miller. I’ll probably get back to it, but his sometimes long-winded style is not what I need to be reading while I work on this. I’ve switched off to Hunter S. Thompson’s _The Rum Diary_, which is a long-lost novel he wrote back in 1959. It’s an autobigraphical fiction piece, which has the same first-novel feel as my book, or Michael’s Sunclipse novel. It’s helpful to see how he did a few things, like how he handled pacing and time problems. I just started, but I will probably finish the thing in a day or two.

Thinking about buying a laptop. If you have any tips or leads, please let me know. It won’t happen for a few weeks, but maybe I’ll go to the newsstand and get a Computer Shopper to salivate all over.

It’s almost 12:30 and I haven’t even showered yet today. I better get moving.


Rosy Crucifiction

I’ve decided that if I ready Henry Miller’s Rosy Crucifixion trilogy, many of the short-term wrongs will be righted in my life. I’ve been looking for something to make me think about writing and somehow think about where I’m at right now. It’s hard to explain beyond that, but I’ve read the first 30 or 40 pages of Sexus today, and it makes a lot of sense to me. Miller starts as a person who has written but who doesn’t write, but is told that he should. It’s in the context of a torrid love affair, and it makes him analyze what writing is, and why he should or shouldn’t proceed. It’s a good dialogue for me to ponder at this point. Plus, reading someone else’s prose for a while usually helps mine. So we’ll see – I might give up by page 47.

I got the three books as a present for being in Bill Perry’s wedding. That was the summer of 1994, and I read them over the last half of that year. I got started on Miller with Tropic of Capricorn at the beginning of ’94, around my birthday. It was when I was starting my transformation from whatever I was to writer. I guess it’s good to get back into his stuff, because I feel another major transformation will be required to get all of Seattle out of my sytem and really become a full-time writer.

I’ve been dealing with a strange depression, which partially has to do with me never leaving the house. I guess I had that when I was in Seattle, but I was so burrowed into my apartment, it felt good to stay in all day surrounded with my books. Part of the depression also probably has to do with not having a car. Because in Seattle, when I never left my house, I would make the 3am run to 7-Eleven for a Slurpee and then drive for 20 minutes or an hour, just for the sake of driving. Now that I am a pedestrian and deathfully afraid of getting lost or mugged or both when I do anything other than walk to the McDonald’s or Radio Shack down the street, it has begun burrowing away at me.

I have been busy – two clients, the book, the trip story, the journals, reading, and assorted cleaning/straightening/organizing which I never seem to get done. But it’s not like when you go to work for 8 hours, and then sit at home for x hours. I guess I’m just whining and babbling about all of this, but it is really starting to take a toll on me. I’ve been waiting for that magic transition period to end so everything is correct and I can do what I planned on doing before I left, which was write full-time and spend the rest of the remaining time enjoying myself. Right now, I’m not writing or enjoying myself, and that’s the problem.

I feel better today than I did yesterday, but I still feel like I was hit by a car. I’m hoping that 12 hours of sleep will knock more of this out of me. Until then, I’ve got a ton of mail to answer and I should do some more reading.


Two clients, two books, no waiting

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, and my medium-term memory is completely gone, but I’ve taken on a second tech writing client. It’s a sort of whirlwind project, writing a manual in the next two weeks. I’m still getting started with the software and everything, but the framework of the thing is zipping along. The reason I mention this is that with two clients, I have virtually no time to think about other stuff. It’s good that Summer Rain is currently resting, as I will be very busy for the next few weeks.

I’m at a state where everything I touch breaks. This happens here and there, but it has been fairly constant since I arrived here. I’m still waiting for this to go away so I can… so I can something. so I can complete my sentences. This journal project is useless at this point. I can’t compose my thoughts when I have to pre-guess what I’m typing over a delay that ranges from five seconds to five minutes per character. I can’t compose my thoughts, period. My paper journal has gone completely south – I’m lucky to update it weekly, and then it is a maze of confusion, wondering if I’ve added some certain daily activities event in the story. And my writing on the trip piece of shit has been mostly “I was x” “I did y” “I drove more” kind of shit.

I honestly need to stop writing, period, until the desire to write comes back. I need to do nothing but sleep and play nintendo for weeks, months, years, until my journals and my other work become creative again. But I can’t do that. I have work that needs to be completed, and I know that if I stop writing, I will just beat myself up for not writing until I return. And if I stop, I will feel that I have absolutely no purpose in life, and I will spend the remainder of my savings on some idiotic hobby to give myself purpose. And I can’t do that.

So maybe I need to do some exercises. Write something different. Read some books about writing. I don’t know. I’ll figure it out eventually.


Fermenting Rain

I have completed a draft of the last third of Summer Rain. It took a lot of stalling for me to type that sentence, at least wouthout qualifying it somehow (“mostly completed”,”shitty draft”,etc.) I’m not happy with the writing in the third part of the book – it’s very repetitive, simple, and I don’t think it has as much significance. But the third part of the book has never been written entirely. While the first chapters have been written and rewritten a million times, there were holes in the ending that were left in a skeletal state ever since I started this disaster back in 1995. Maybe with time and further refinements, I will be more comfortable with book 3 and its problems. Maybe I will have to completely rewrite it, or at least add some new plot elements and scale back the stuff that seems to drag on forever.

I should mention that Summer Rain in its entirety is available for review and comment to discriminating readers. I say that because the whole thing is 237,000 words long and I can’t throw it on a public web site and let the world read it if I ever try to publish the thing. But if you want to read it and let me know what you think, drop me a line and I can give you a password to download everything.

Work is beginning to pile up. I have two freelance tech writing clients, and a couple of other leads. Summer Rain can sit and ferment for a bit, but I’ve still got this damned trip travelogue thing. I think it’s 4 or 5 days into the 14 total, but it’s still going slow. At least I got the pictures scanned, thanks to Marie, so I can plug those in once I get the thing on the web. Soon, soon.

I just read an excellent bio on Bukowski – I would tell you the author and title, but I already put it away and I don’t want to get up. It’s the new one that just came out in hardcover – I found it at Tower, so it shouldn’t be that obscure. It’s the best bio of him I’ve seen, considering all of the half-ass attempts made. It’s the first third-party Bukowski book I’ve seen that was longer than a pamphlet, and it’s very well written. The problem with Buk is that his stories and poems were about 90% accurate, and the other 10% has been very elusive. Everyone has speculated on details of his life like finances, and it’s good to see a realistic account of this stuff.

I just started a 12M download and typing is not an option anymore. I guess it’s time to go do some other work.