Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Three dollar shake

There are days when nothing happens, nothing eventful, and I can’t say “I went to the mall” or “I went to the movies” or whatever. And oddly enough, those times seem to happen more frequently when I’m working on Rumored to Exist. I think it’s because when I work on Summer Rain, I actually write for 8 hours straight sometimes, interrupted only by breaks for food, drink, the restroom, or a CD change. So when I do that, there seems to be a greater sense of accomplishment. But when I work on Rumored, there’s a lot of dead space, a lot of looking at books and watching parts of movies and doing web searches and just fucking around in general. Because with Rumored, it could take me all day to pull together 30 lines of writing, 18 of which suck and need to be re-written. It’s satisfying to finally read something that has come together after a lot of work, but it’s also very frustrating to feel like I’m wasting away my time.

I haven’t been reading, and it’s a dangerous situation. I feel like I need to get buried in some books to guide me and reinforce that I’m supposed to be writing a book right now. But I feel like I’ll start ripping off somebody else’s stuff if I do start reading. I tore through some Leyner recently, and it got me started on how cool I could make things, but it also embedded a lot of references in my mind that I don’t want to rip off. None of his books really remind me of Rumored in their structure; the old stuff is much more experimental, and the newer stuff is more linear and plot-constructed. I thought about getting into some Burroughs, but it’s the same problem, and I don’t want to invest all of my creative energy into working through Nova Express or something. I need to start reading obscure technical manuals, almanacs, history texts, cancer handbooks, power tool instruction manuals, and other crap that will get my mind churned up enough to work on new ideas.

I started cataloging new ideas in a leatherbound journal that Marie got me a few months ago. It’s a little unlined book that’s perfect for me to brainstorm a few pages of idiotic ideas while I’m watching TV or whatever. I’m not doing a good job in general with the 87 different formats of journal I’m keeping, but I figure this will be an interesting experience.

IHOP has a $3 milkshake, which is a great shake, but I’m not sure if it’s worth $3. There’s an IHOP in the Bronx (take the 1 train to 231st) and it’s one of the few portals to my previous life. Everything in Manhattan is different, but every IHOP is almost exactly the same. This one is a little weird – no peaked churchlike ceiling – but it’s still a fucking IHOP. Four syrups, big pot of coffee, bizarre blue and wood color scheme – it’s all there. I think we’ve eaten there almost every week since my arrival. There’s no Denny’s, no 7-Eleven, no giant malls with parking lots and air-conditioned concourses. I guess I can get used to that (although I miss Slurpees) but it’s cool to go to the old, familiar International House of Pancakes and eat about 2000 calories of junk.

That’s all.