I’m not a blogger

2018-02-02T11:41:31+00:00 November 17th, 2017|

I’m not a blogger. I’m not even a diarist. I’m the kind of writer who finds it hard to go into the world with stream-of-consciousness text. It’s the equivalent of my underwear showing with my skirt tucked into my waistband. I’ve kept diaries before, but I don’t find them productive – they end up being agonized litanies of what’s going wrong, a lot of “why, why, WHY???”[1] Also, looking squarely at my problems is too painful and so my mental agonies only bubble up through my fiction years after they occur. (The fact that I’m writing with female protagonists is also a sign I’m willing to be more honest about my voice, too.)

Voice. This is why I don’t do NaNoWriMo. I did it one year, got 10,000 words in, and dropped the idea. The concept was that I would write a The Atrocity Exhibition-like novel, portraits from a spanning century of Los Angeles, my homesick city (and I’ve never even lived there, only stopped in for a life-changing 3 days several years ago and now I’m perpetually yearning. San Fran, psssh. I left my bleak little heart in LA and it’s very happy there.) (How’s these parentheses working? Should I switch to [brackets]? Sounds like I’m paraphrasing myself, which is what editing is. Trust me, if the sprawling prose in these paragraphs isn’t cluing you in to that I’m not doing more than correcting mis-typings, let me assure you this is coming out in one Kerouacian (-ackian?) typewriter scroll, in the infinite On The Road of Microsoft Word. (I tried Open Office. When I came into a little money I bought myself Word and I won’t go back.)

Anyway. NaNo. The novel I was writing was a bound version of an idea I’d had a while ago, a stack of index cards in a clever little box that you’d be happy to display on your shelf, and each card would be printed with a paragraph, a vignette. There would be recurring characters, recurring phrases, recurring synchronicities, and the idea is that you could shuffle the deck any way you wanted and your mind would assemble a narrative because it was looking for one, because it was hungry for one, for the same reasons we see faces in electric outlets and car headlights. This book wouldn’t be a stack of cards, but it would be similarly structured. To give myself a loose framework, I went to the tarot cards and used each as an inspiration. In fact, I’ll just give you one now.

DEATH         1966

The comedian has a private room at <hospital>. Big window. They won’t tell him he has cancer. He’s the only one who doesn’t know. He paces the room and asks for cigarettes. You have bronchitis, says the purse-lipped nurse, shaking her head. I know I’ve got bronchitis, he croaks. You don’t scare me, nightingale. I scaled a wall in a straightjacket last place they put me in. He pinches her ass and she swats his hand. Well, we’ll just see about that straightjacket. Funny man in a straight jacket. He laughs at the idea. He asks for a deck of cards. Those they give him. He taps the pack against his palm, itching, pitches aces into an upturned hat. His old agent visits. If they’d give me cigarettes I could show you a smoke ring gag. His second-to-last wife visits. Honey, I’m not dead yet. There’s knots and stormclouds on the chest x-rays. How are you doing today? Fit as a fiddle, doc. Watch this. He stands next to the hospital bed, waves the last wife away. He hefts one leg onto the bed. He grabs his standing leg around the thigh and hefts it, too. He hovers weightless for a moment, perpendicular man. The sky outside is blue as chest x-rays. He falls.

Rereading it, these are pretty great. I’ll give you more later. I’ve got a lot of books to finish this year, from Lucky X for King Shot to several children’s books (!!!! I know) I’m writing. I’m proud of those,  too. I’ll call it quits for now, blog posts need to be digestible. On and on about this in the next entry.

[1] Blogging is also not a discipline that lends itself to footnotes, which, if I’m doing a semi-structured stream of consciousness, means I can’t accurately duplicate the way I speak in text. (Those who have had conversations with me will notice I often say “Let me put a pin in that thought and come back to it”, before I continue.) It’s not homage to David Foster Wallace, although no one used them quite like him, with them nested inside each other in Inception-matryoshka dolls. So this is the last footnote I’ll write, since it’s not convenient for scrollers. I’ll have to find some new ways to depict these digressions, since I’m not satisfied with the parenthesis either.