Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

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…