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NaNoWriMo, day one

So there’s this thing called National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.  It’s a contest of sorts, where writers have one month to write a 50,000 word novel.  There are no prizes or judges, and there’s no real anything except motivation to throw together a book as fast as possible.  This isn’t anything new; I tried to do this back in 2002, but between a trip to Vegas at the start, a horrible case of the flu, and a story line that was largely unsustainable, I dropped out pretty fast.  This time, I will be in Mexico for a week of the time, and I’ve got a more involved job, plus I’m also married now, so I don’t have as much time as when I was single with no friends in New York, and coasting in a job where I could spend long periods of time chipping away at an outline.

I have been outlining a book for a few weeks ago; it’s actually an idea I’ve knocked around for years, and I have parts of a rough draft that weighs in at about 60,000 words.  The book, structurally, threatens to weigh in at close to the word count of Summer Rain, or about 180,000-200,000 words.  The book is somewhat biographical, and takes place in high school.  I have often said I don’t want to dip back into this style of writing, and there are some obvious issues with doing this.  But I feel like I need to get this out of my system and behind me, and the only way to do that is to actually write and finish the damn book and put it behind me.  Maybe nobody will ever read it, but I need to get it done and on the shelf.

My biggest problem is that twenty years is a long time ago, and my memory isn’t what it used to be.  When I was writing Summer Rain, that period was only a few years behind me.  I also had a decent paper trail, including old emails, diaries, checkbooks, bank statements, letters, and even a copy of my bursar’s record, with the prices of every thin dime the university shook out of me back in 1992.  I have moved eight times since I started Summer Rain.  Since I graduated high school, I have moved fifteen times.  Each time, a little bit more falls off the truck or into the recycler, and I have almost no record of anything anymore.  I need to be a lot more loose with dates and details this time around.

There’s also the issue with writing about other people.  I always run into the problem that I write some story about someone from 1988, and the story is about love lost or lessons learned, and I get an email that says “WHAT THE FUCK DUDE MY CAR DIDNT HAVE 14 INCH RIMS IT HAD 15 INCH RIMS”.  Writing about space aliens from mars doesn’t generate this kind of thing, and it’s a real crapshoot, because I can obsess over these tiny details, or I can just omit so-and-so from the story entirely, or make up some new character, or whatever else.  But knowing that someone will read the story eventually and get on your case because maybe you painted them in a bad light is always unnerving.  And the work of combining and amalgamating and fictionalizing characters is always that – work.

So I’ve been re-reading John Sheppard’s Small Town Punk (the original version, not the Reader’s Digest version) and that’s got me geared up.  I’ve also been doing a lot of outlining using OmniOutliner on the Mac, which is a pretty useful program for this sort of thing.  I usually have really terse outlines, and then I write for 30 or 40,000 words, and then I start forgetting what the outline is or what I covered, and I have to stop and re-read and re-outline everything, which is a huge waste of time.  I hope that I can stick to this outline and keep things rolling.

Today was day one, and my wordcount was just over 3000.  I think you need something like 1667 words a day to hit the magic 50K, so I’m slightly ahead.  I hope I can work out some more slack and keep going.  I’m also somewhat forcing myself to write very linear, starting at chapter 1 and going forward, instead of hopping around.

Anyway, that’s what’s keeping me busy – if I vanish for a bit, you know why.

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general

A roundabout appearance in the Times

My writing pal Michael Stutz out in Ohio had a brief appearance in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago.  What makes it interesting is he’s describing some of our late night phone calls back when I lived in the warzone of Astoria.  Check it out:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/14/nyregion/14diary.html?_r=1

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Automatic writing

I haven’t been writing in a while. I still feel like my last great writing project was Rumored to Exist, which shipped in 2002. Everything since then has been a greatest hits or a remix or a collection or something that I started and then watched die on the vine. I’ve managed to get a few good short stories hashed together in the zine, but it starts and ends there.

And in the last year, forget about it. I haven’t been able to spend more than ten seconds in front of my home computer, given my work schedule. I thought about a lot of different book projects, and would chip away a few words here and there, but I think in the last year, I’ve managed to write maybe a few thousand words. I did finish one short story, and I sort of dicked around with a few ideas for books, but never committed. And like waking up one day a decade after college and finding oneself fifty pounds overweight, I simply do not write anymore. It might be like riding a bike to some people, but I think it’s a perishable skill, and if you don’t sit down and work on something every day, it goes away. I now flip back to some of my old writing, the books or even stuff on here, and I’m amazed at how much better it is than anything I’ve tried to do in the last few months. And it’s because I used to write every god damned day, and now I write about as much as I go to the gym, which is basically never.

I’ve been talking to my friend Michael about this, and finally came to the conclusion that I just need to man up, wake up earlier every day, and pound out some writing every day, even if it is not for a project. That was the original intention of this journal, to give me some practice every day before I got to the actual writing. But there are a lot of political reasons I can’t just dump anything in here. I’m always afraid of who will read it, and I want things to have a start and a finish, and I want to match a certain theme, and blah blah blah and then I end up paralyzed by fear and unable to write anything. But I need to write SOMETHING.

That’s when I decided I needed to dump more into automatic writing. I’m not talking about the spirit world trance writing bullshit; I mean sitting down at the keyboard, starting with a thought, and just typing, dumping thoughts straight into the buffer with no concern about plot or structure or underlying anything, just brain to hard disk, trying to capture a scene or a feeling. I don’t know the history of this method; I guess Kerouac was pretty hip to it. But my goal was to sit down at 5:30 AM, eat my bowl of cereal, and speed-type down a thousand words a day of something.

I dropped this into my .emacs file:

(defvar write-directory "~/writing/automatic-writing")
(defun writing ()
  (interactive)
  (find-file
   (expand-file-name (format-time-string "%Y%m%d.txt" (current-time))
                     write-directory))
  (goto-char (point-max))
  (newline)
)

(global-set-key "\C-c\C-w" 'writing)

Now I can hit Control-C Control-W in emacs and open up a text file with today’s date, and type away.

I’ve been doing this for the last two weeks, and it has been amazing. I’m just writing stupid stuff, memories of old computers and cars and places I’ve lived, bits I’ve vaguely forgotten and have never put into stories, or things that don’t even make stories but have some good potential for description. I think of an idea in the shower, then without thinking too much, start hacking away. I’ve really been able to knock the rust loose, and I feel like my ability to write is coming back. I am not assembling together the next War and Peace or anything, but it’s something I’m thoroughly enjoying, and I look forward to doing it every day.

My next goal is to (maybe) try to get up a hair earlier, and see how I can work on actually getting the next book going. Or maybe I need to actually focus on a list of vague topics, and see if I can eventually knit together a hundred days of this stuff into something more substantial. But for now, a thousand a day, until I can do it in my sleep. (I sort of am doing that already…)

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general

Surge, Vault

One of the 200-some odd reasons my writing throughput and/or quality has dropped considerably in recent years (and I’m talking reasons in my head, not real, quantifiable reasons) is that Coca-Cola stopped bottling Surge soda. For those of you who don’t remember or never experienced it, Surge is/was a citrus soda that originally was called Urge in Norway, and was bottled there to compete with Mountain Dew. (Some Coke bottlers compete with Mountain Dew with Mello Yello, which is available in some markets, but not others.) Anyway, Seattle was a test market for Surge when it showed up in 1997, and once I tried it, I was hooked. Surge basically reminded me of a carbonated version of the Hi-C Ekto-cooler drink. It was more lime than lemon, with an unnatural bright green color, carbonation, and caffeine. It had a very unique taste, and wasn’t anything like its nearest competitor, Mountain Dew. I really liked it.

This was right after the time I quit caffeine entirely, but was going back on it again. I wouldn’t drink any Coke or anything else all day, except maybe the occasional Sprite. But on the weekends, when I was busy slamming away at the text for Rumored to Exist, I would go to Safeway, buy a 2-liter of Surge, and put it in the fridge, as my fuel for the next few days. I drank a lot of the stuff as I worked on the text, and I absolutely loved it.

Of course, when I moved to New York, I couldn’t find the shit anywhere. You already know the rant about how New York grocery stores don’t stock anything of variety, so I won’t repeat it. But I could not find Surge anywhere. Sometimes on a vacation, I’d get a taste. And I think the girl I dated in Cornell back in 2000 found a few bottles at a gas station upstate somewhere once. But after that, it was gone. And that pissed me off, because writers can get really locked into habits or triggers that can set off the hard-to-channel zone of writing. Some people have strange rituals. I used to start writing at the same time every night; others need a certain chair or pillow or snack or drink. Some need certain music; others require quiet. And for whatever reason, I got myself into a situation where I needed a certain type of sugar-water that a corporation test-marketed and then decided not to make anymore.

Well, good news, maybe. Coke has decided to come out with a new drink called Vault. There were a few ads during the superbowl, and they hinted at nationwide distribution in February. Now, I interpreted that as “distribution in every place with real grocery stores that aren’t run by the mafia, so fuck you New York”, and also wondered if the stuff really tasted like Surge, and if I’d get a chance to try it the next time that I went on vacation to a place with real grocery stores. But today, when we were at K-Mart, Sarah found that they actually had the stuff! I bought a couple of 20-ounce bottles, and gave it a try. It’s similar to Surge, although maybe a little more tart, and without as distinct of a green color as the original. The bottle looks different, of course, and you’d be amazed at how much different something appears to taste when it’s in a different bottle. But it’s pretty close. I like it.

I don’t know if I’ll be stocking our fridge with the stuff or not. My writing schedule and situation have been pretty off lately, and I don’t know if the magic elixer will suddenly have me pouring out words or not. I am in that process of thinking about what I will do before I start doing anything, and that’s frustrating and takes time. But it’s getting there.

Okay, I have to figure out a movie and a dinner and make them hobbling distance from each other so it will work out okay…

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Zappa and experiments in form

Not much is going on here. The Zappa book I am reading is Dangerous Kitchen: The Subversive World of Zappa by Kevin Courrier. I’m about 200 pages into it, and I like it so far. I think in some sense it fails to be critical about Zappa’s shortcomings, but it does give a different perspective than Zappa’s first-person biography, which is the only other book I’ve read about him.

I’m not interested in reading about Zappa because I am the sort of person that has memorized every single song of his. Rather, I am interested in how he created this whole monster, the way he started making very confusing and confrontational music and brought it to a worldwide cult status of attention. I wish I could do the same, and it makes me jealous in a way because music and performance is such an easy to comprehend format for people. It has such a legitimate place in society, it is easy to distribute and easy to perform live, and it can be a very active performance or a more passive thing to enjoy. I feel the literature’s downfall is that in order to enjoy it, you have to sit there with a book in hand and get through 200 pages of it. The bar is so high for entrance to it, that it’s hard to get a large number of people interested. I wish I would’ve asked my parents for a guitar when I was ten, and then played it for hours every day. It makes me very confused and depressed about what I am doing, and what I should be doing, not to mention that I just put this book out and I thought it was the greatest thing I’d ever done and the only legitimate feedback that I got was that I should go back to writing stupid first-person stories or that I should find a psychiatrist and make them read the book so they could “cure” me.

Of course, the only answer is that Rumored is the right direction for me, because I don’t think there’s any legitimate value in me writing another book like Summer Rain or some kind of Cometbus ripoff stories like Air in the Paragraph Line. I think there are a lot of popular writers out there that are selling lots of books writing coming-of-age, punk-rock, brat-pack stuff. And I think my only tangible skill is to take what they do and destroy it, satirize it, blasphemize it, and take their bold statements on society and laugh at them. I feel more people, or at least some people, should see this and enjoy it as the opposite of these books that are easy to hate. Rock and roll was created because people didn’t want to listen to “Who’s that Doggy in the Window.” I don’t want to read Wally Lamb. I’m sure others don’t want to, either.

I guess a lot of Rumored was the beginning of an experiment to find my own form and technique that isn’t just a story about a boy and a story about a girl or whatever. The way I structured the book was an attempt at changing that, and it didn’t work as well as I wanted, so the next book will pick up on the flaws in structure and story. But it won’t change with regard to tone and content. It will still be obscene, and dark, and violent, and funny. (It may not have any puke jokes, since that pretty much threw everyone.) I don’t want to go down the road that Burroughs did with cutups and stuff. I am finding less and less value in Burroughs as I continue. (I now find almost no value in Kerouac, and I’ve always disliked Ginsberg, both as a person and a writer.)

Anyway, I have an idea for a book, but I can’t talk about it. But I think it might work. I’m going to take notes on it all weekend. I think I might do NaNoWriMo again in November, and write a draft then, but I will continue working on it after them. I’ve come to realize that writing fast is not my forte, and it’s better that I take my time and nurture my thoughts a bit more, so I can come up with stronger writing.

I just ate Chinese food, and I’m ready for a nap.

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Biological anomaly

I want to talk more about writing, but today’s been weird. Not today, or the events of today, but some biological anomaly. Maybe I’m depressed, or maybe it’s poor diet. It’s one of those weird in-between states where I’m talking to someone about something and it reminds me of a movie, and it takes me 7 years and 3 Leaonard Maltin books to remember that I was thinking of The Godfather. Or whatever. Not the time to start discussing weird literary theory.

I finally found the expansion pak for the Nintendo 64, and also picked up a Rumble Pack. I’m still trying hard to finish level 4 of Star Wars: Rogue Squardon. Last night, I managed to get a tow cable around an AT-AT three times, and the fucking thing stumbled to its well-deserved death. Then I found out that you have to kill two of them and do some other jerking around before you clear the level. I read some FAQs and found that I’m not alone here – it’s one of the hardest levels of the game.

I don’t know who reads this, but I’ll say this in case some people deeply embedded in the journal scene do read this: I am really looking for journals similar to mine, or similar to what I want this journal to be. I have been falling into this rut of “I went to the mall. I bought some new socks. I ate a grape. I looked at the inside of my fridge” sort of journal entries. I wish I knew others who were writing about writing, instead of writing about their lives as writing. If you know of any, let me know.

Writing Rumored has been hard lately. I wrote two pieces last night, both marginal in quality, and finished working in some edits Marie did on the first half back when I was in NY. And it’s hard to procrastinate. I feel so guilty watching TV, and I’m so sick of the shit they have on there. I spent 40 minutes out of the hour watching commercials, and think about Asimov writing a book every 14 minutes during his career. I know that eventually I will get motivated and a long string of writing will suddenly hit the page. Until then, I’m poking away. I am at part #133 of the book, and it would be nice to be at #150 by the end of the month. I really hope to get this fucking thing done by the end of March. That doesn’t mean a final draft, but just something that has parts 0-255 and doesn’t require me to go back and junk 40 or 50 of them because I wrote them all in a night.

I have a dinner getting cold here, and I should probably try to get in the right frame of mind to work. More later.

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persona, content

I’ve been thinking more about content, which I babbled on about yesterday. There are a few conflicts involved in all of this, so bear with me.

Yesterday, I talked about content and method versus character and setting and plot. It might be helpful if you read yesterday’s entry, but for now, I’m going to ignore everything but content. A typical, writing 101 short story or Hollywood screenplay contains content – a protagonist, an antagonist, a dark and stormy night, a football player and the cheerleadr who loves him, and so on. The distinction that I would make between a typical story and something experimental or literary is that the purpose of the content is different, so the content is different. For example, the purpose of Dr. Benway in a William S. Burroughs book is different than the purpose of Dr. Niles Crane on the TV show Frazier. The former can develop in different ways because he’s not supporting this typical entourage of characters in the typical plot A/plot B sitcom script. More focus can be put on the characters (or the settings or objects) because they aren’t simple plug-ins to a prefab storyline. I think that’s the big distinction in literary fiction, and it’s what differentiates something like The Subterraneans and Weekend at Bernie’s.

So where do these heightened characters and places and objects come from? Writers write what they know, for the most part. This has been the major stumbling block for me and my writing career. I’ve read books by Bukowski, about his years of drinking, meeting different women, betting on the horses, living with almost no money and writing for an underground newspaper, living in roominghouses. I’ve read Burroughs, the trips into the jungle to find Yage, the travel all over the world, the Beat Hotel and Tangiers. And I’ve even been jealous of Henry Rollins, sleeping in the back of a U-Haul, a different city every day on the road with Black Flag. All of these people lived adventurous lives, while I haven’t. The closest I’ve been to being on the edge was maybe in college, but that’s nothing like On the Road. So part of my muse has been telling me that I need to go out and live to collect this content – to do like Hemmingway and fight in wars and fight bulls and drink 20 shots of whiskey for breakfast and everything else. And granted, if I could play the guitar or I found some gig that got me out of the house and all around the country, maybe I’d try it. But I’ve thought that the collection of content was a major deterrant in my writing career. I wrote one book called Summer Rain based on a summer in Bloomington, and it was fun to write (well, it’s still not done yet…) but I realized that there would never be a second book after this one, because if I stuck to this genre of autobiographical fiction, every book I wrote would be another Summer Rain.

But you don’t need to live it to write it, do you? Several of my favorite writers, most notably Mark Leyner, write stuff that never really happened. It’s all based on a mix of research, pop culture, current events, and sheer insanity. Someone like Leyner is pulling his content from the air, and it’s commendable work. When I mess with this, I find that the fictional content you create is only as good as the random junk floating in your head. I took a few weird college courses on music theory, cancer, third world politics, and astronomy, and I have a weird laundry list of interest and topics I like to read about, too. But when I do my best work on Rumored to Exist is when I do my best homework. I pick things up from other people, from newsgroups, from websites, from odd shows on the Discovery channel. And when everything works good, and when I’m saturated with this useless knowledge, the content flows. But other times, it doesn’t. And that’s what I’m trying to improve.

I just got interrupted, so I lost my train of thought. But what I think I was going to say is that I feel a need to research and challenge myself to look at new things and ideas, specifically for Rumored to Exist. I find that I need to look for a starting point for new and weird topics, and once that happens, everything snowballs and I’m doing plenty of good writing. My friend and fellow writer Michael Stutz recommended Robert Anton Wilson’s book Everything is Under Control, so I ran and got a copy of last night. He was 100% right – it’s this encyclopedia of weird conspiracy theories and secret societies that’s somewhat tongue in cheek and probably not even 10% correct, but it’s an excellent read. And now I’m thinking about Freemasons, Men in Black (not Will Smith), word virus theories, germ warfare, and a ton of other cool stuff. I have enough research material to keep me busy for a while.

The application of this material is the second part of what I talked about yesterday, the method. I don’t think I am going to be able to crack out a good explanation of this, since I haven’t even begun to think about it. But that’s a good discussion for later.

As always, I’m really looking for comments about this babble, especially since this self-discussion is becoming somewhat important to me. So please email me if you have any thoughts on the subject.

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persona

I’m at the point in my writing cycle where I’m overanalyzing how writing works. I often need to break apart stories and books and try to find what makes them readable, desirable, and functional. Although I feel that Rumored to Exist is a good book in many places, I don’t know how it will stand as a complete book, and I don’t know how I will come up with the ideas to finish it. Because it is so loose and free-form, there’s no cohesive story to follow, which puts me in the danger of never finishing. I’ve been hacking at Rumored for a little over two years, and I’m barely halfway done. Another round of edits could put me well below the halfway bar, if I start chopping the pieces I absolutely hate.

This means I start thinking about the theory of plot and structure of story. It also means I think about my interests and try to find new topics to research, combine, and twist into new ideas. It’s a nervous prospect, since I have absolutely no attention span right now, and I can never apply myself to projects like this. It’s the reason I could never learn a foreign language, or pull a decent GPA in largely scantron courses like psychology or sociology. So I might be off this kick before too long.

The perfect starting point and example is, of course, William S. Burroughs. He lived a life of ecclectic and bizarre connections: heroin, South America, homosexuality, classical literature, psychology, technology, and travel. He worked jobs just to find out what it was like, as a private detetective or exterminator, and took a strange path, studying at Harvard, going to Vienna for medical school, living in the middle of nowhere in Texas, and then going across the globe: Mexico, South America, Tangiers, Paris, Austria, New York, Kansas. His life provided the raw material to produce his books. He often went on about different topics, such as the Mayans, time travel, scientology, the corruption of a Christian society, drug dealers, and more. But he didn’t write straightforward narratives about his experiences, like Charles Bukowski or Henry Miller or something. It was more veiled in complicated structures; cutups, fragments, dreams and chaos used to frame the pieces of his stories.

If I wanted to rip off Burroughs entirely, the two basic pieces to investigate could then be defined as the content and the method. This sounds pretty arbitrary, but it’s an important distinction, because I think in most of your writing 101 classes, the division of story would be something like plot and character. I don’t think plot is required, because it’s really a part of method. The method of a story, especially something nonlinear, doesn’t have to include plot. It could use any mechanism that would pull the reader through the story. A book like Naked Lunch is not plot-driven. (The well-versed Burroughs scholar could argue that it is, but the first-time reader would disagree, so let’s stick with that.) And character is somewhat of a division of content. Although characters are important in WSB’s work, he doesn’t rely on a top-down cast like a Hollywood movie. And it isn’t a typical first-person narrative like so many literary works.

I don’t know where to start, and I don’t think I can investigate both of these today, but the easiest way for me to begin would be with content. I always try to find new, cool things to discuss in Rumored, be it designer drugs, high-tech weaponry, pop-culture icons, or obscure history references. I’m not always 100% happy with some of these things, and many have been cut or toned down as the editing of Rumored continues. I need to think of new topics, but I need to think about how they are discussed or applied, and that’s where it gets even more complicated.

Back to Burroughs – a lot of his work has a mystical, investigative approach. He talks about the Mayans and Ah Pook the Destroyer and all of that, with a spiritual approach. I don’t mean that he is a religious writer; it’s that the characters and reference – the content – relies on a religious framework to interact through his books. When he talks about heroin, it isn’t a Trainspotting sort of Calvin Klein ad for junk; he talks about it in a spiritual sense. He has created a culture which has its own minor morality plays based on the unique aspects of drug use and addiction. It’s not like a Hollywood movie where the use of drugs pushes one of the characters in the stereotypical inventory of characters through the stock five plot movements, i.e. I’m a high school cheerleader and I have a football player boyfriend; Someone offers me drugs and I try them so I can be pretty/popular/better; antics ensue; I weigh 500 pounds and smoke a pound of hash a day; I learn to love god. moral: don’t do drugs, kids! Burroughs seems to walk far outside of this, because he isn’t pushing a plot like they are. He might have some plot elements to keep the pages turning, but it’s not all designed to be a 2 hour movie of the week.

Although I haven’t read his stuff in years, I was thinking of Asimov as another example. He wrote all of these books about robots, but the books aren’t really about big aluminum men running around killing people or whatever. He took the angle of social commentary and engineered it around the limitations and issues of robotics. Asimov wasn’t a religious guy (If I remember correctly, he’s a Humanist, which is probably my closest fit, religion-wise) and his books aren’t knit together with a spiritual overtone. He takes his unique topics and works together the content with the political or sociological consequenses. Other writers would have a plot-driven theme about robots, but he uses a light plot to drive home the unique circumstanses of man creating artificial “life.”

So my homework for tonight is to come up with a laundry list of topics I could further explore and research for the universe created within Rumored to Exist. There are tons of things there, but many of them are free-floating. Someone might be injecting some cloning serum in his arm, but the purpose and placement of clones in the book is somewhat secondary. I think if I picked apart some of the topics I’ve discussed and brainstormed further mutations of them, there would be more coross-pollination of weird stuff and more ideas for new pieces.

And maybe tomorrow I can talk about method. Or maybe I’ll still be babbling about this.

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Finding style

It’s just another day. I spent the weekend staying up all night and sleeping all day. Now I just about totalled myself getting in here, and my eyes are welded shut with sleep. My stomach is churning from no food and too much caffeine. I could use a nap. I could use ten naps.

I shouldn’t bitch – I got a lot of writing done. I cracked open the Summer Rain text, and started at page one. I hope to read through it, making revisions and getting up to speed with the text again. I used to be able to think of a paragraph or conversation and just turn right to that page without thinking. Now I forget how the fucking story goes in some places.

Last summer, I cut the book into three pieces – three books, to make it more logical, to fit together better. It’s sort of three phases of the character’s summer, and follows his thinking about what he should do with his life. It also makes the text easier to work with – the chapters are shorter, and I can just work with each third of the book, and not worry about this giant volume of writing all at once.

My plan this time is to read through the whole thing, correct the choppiness, and fix any holes. I do have a larger idea to break the story apart by alternating the chapters of reality with some other chapters – maybe flashbacks, email messages, or something. That’s a bit ambitious right now, though. I just want to focus on making the main body of text readable. I know nobody will want to buy this book, or even read it. But I want to make it readable to me, and I want to finish it. I’d feel better with a fully-functional book sitting under my bed and collecting dust than a bunch of disjointed text that makes up 90% of a book.

Also, I think my drive to finish this book is different than before. When I wrote the first draft, I wanted to publish this book and make money and do interviews and be on Charlie Rose and become famous. I realize now that the book market in this country is fucked, and the only way you can get a book deal is to be a murderer or one of the lawyers at their trial. Americans don’t buy books anymore unless they’ve got the endorsement by some pop-rock idiot, or they were ghost written for a rock star or something. I can’t sell this book. I can’t give it away. And I don’t think anybody would read it, because it really drags, and tells a story that has a lot of vague hidden meaning that isn’t there for most people. It’s boring to most people. But it means a lot to me. And also, I have been afraid about talking about me. I didn’t want to discuss everything that happened with people because I was afraid they’d sue me. There was a lot of self-censorship involved, and I’ve decided to just cut the shit, hit the throttles, and write this fucking book. Nobody’s going to see it except me. So it’s time to belt this thing out.

I cut through two chapters last night, and made some minor changes. I am not happy with my writing style in the manuscript, and my first big changes will be cleaning this up. The beginning of the book’s been edited about 38 times, and past the first few chapters hasn’t really been touched from the original manuscript I started back at IU. So the first third of the book is really lofty, with me adding adjectives and adverbs all over the place to make it more descriptive. It reads like a dumb-ass trying to be smart. And then later in the book, I was typing faster than fuck while on a caffeine buzz, and some parts of the book just skip all over the place. There are whole sentences without verbs, lots of edit marks, stuff unfinished. So it all needs to be brought to the same level, the same style.

I’ve thought about what style to mimic for this book. Obviously, I want my own style and I need to find it. But I need to find it by writing SOMETHING and then slowly finding myself and changing. I guess what I want is a combination of Bukowski and Rupert Thomson. I want to be easy to read, easy to tackle, something that flows well, but has a depth behind it. I don’t want to spend half a page describing an environment – I’d rather briefly set it up, have the character and their actions describe it, and then continue. I guess Kerouac was into that, especially in On The Road. Anyway, the stuff is hard to read in places, and it needs to be simplified, but it still needs to capture the feeling.

Window washers are outside my office right now, dangling from ropes with buckets of soap and squeegees. It was pretty weird – I heard a knocking around, then saw these ropes drop and guys in harnesses fling down like SWAT team guys rapelling down to get the terrorists or something.

My stomach is feeling a little better, but I still need a nap…