For you, the dress code is casual.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Writing, or the Fine Art of Not

Every now and then I start thinking about story. I'd like to write fiction eventually, something more substantial than the flash I've been given to doing in the past.

I'm pretty terrified to do a novel. I can't figure out a story that has a beginning, middle, and end. I can't come up with anything that really compels me. The desire's not really there yet.

But I've got to say I think I'm going to love the editorial process in hammering out a story. Critically going over it again and again to find the flaws and make it better. I hate doing that with these postings, I mean, it's a fucking blog... get over it, right? Blogs have a stinking air of impermance and permanence swirling together. It matters but it doesn't. It's too new to seem like it could last, you know? (But I'll never delete mine... those people who do, I don't get that.)

Fiction, though... a great story transcends time. I wanna transcend time.

I don't know what sort of story I'd do, either. I suspect I'm geared towards dark, sardonic dramedies. I've only ever really taken one writing class. Maureen Medved taught it, who wrote The Tracey Fragments. She freakin' loved two stories I turned in. I still remember the look of pleasant surprise on her face when I wrapped it up. Then she told me it was very evocative of Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son. Which I've both read and seen and still flatters me to this day.

I think I would write it well. One of those short stories, I want it to be a part of whatever it is I write. It's been a long time since I've seen it. I imagine it's somewhere in all this writing I've found of late... Where, I don't know. Probably in the big fucking box of stuff. Hmm. Anyhow. It's a conversation about a death. It's very dark and emotive, describes the death to a T with all the horror felt from the witnessing of it. I got the chills when I read it the first time. You got to love it if your own tale can make you feel that. Fucking rare to create something like that.

An old friend once suggested that my unwillingness to go into fiction at this point, my inability to find conflict in writing so that a whole story can evolve, stems from there having been so very much conflict in my life, really, for the last 25 years. It's been one big drama after another year after year.

A life fit for a writer, really. The stories I'll tell one day. But whatever. I always thought she was bang on. I wonder if that's why I'm starting to think about it. I think I might be ready to go there in the next year or so.

The part of the story that's going to be really interesting is coming up with the when. "When" the story transpires is so integral, 'cos it changes everything about how it unfolds. Cellphones, pay phones, or couriers? Like how Ethan Hawke's Hamlet cuts more than half the running time of the play out while keeping everything of note in, but by eliminating couriers and bringing in technology to deliver the same messages. It's all about era. I'm always conscious of how the era defines the possibilities for what can happen in older movies versus the newer stuff.

I dunno, food for thought. But you sure as hell can't write a novel until you really know what it's about. Gotta have a good idea of where it can go, how much growth is available to both the characters and the plot. Gotta have meat, else what are you gonna chew on, right?

They say the average age of the first-time novelist is 34 years old. Ha. Go figger.

A FEW MINUTES LATER: Beginning my project for the day, gutting my fridge, making a menu plan, etc, and they've got The Last Picture Show just starting, which I saw several years ago, and have wanted to see again since. Now there's a story about a time and place, man. Classic America.