Monday, October 30, 2006

MCI, and MCII (its evil twin)

A windy night, cold, and I feel like I'm waiting around for a train, killing time--there's work to be done, things to read, school duties to fulfill, but all I can think about is the story I'm going to begin writing on Wednesday. It will be finished on a Thursday, thirty days later. It is a story about a man named Jim, a woman named Freya, and an absent mouse.

Right now it's hardly anything. In a month it will be something.

Tonight's my night to see a few old friends before I essentially disappear for a month, take a vacation from my normal life.

I will be spending just about every free moment outside of necessary obligations--work, school, sleeping, eating--at a coffee shop on Colfax, with Jordan, with my head inside this story.

So this is partly my way of saying "Farewell," just a little bit, for a month. I also wanted to post something I wrote out a month or so ago as per recommendation in the Baty book: my two Magna Cartas of novel writing, which are basically early drafts of what I hope will become my "Philosophy of Writing" or something like that later in life as I pursue this thing as a career. I'll be interested to see if I stick to most (any) of this by November's end. Baty recommends framing these and keeping them nearby; since the coffee shop probably wouldn't like me tacking anything up on their walls, it's going here instead, where I'll always have access to it.

MCI: What, To Me, Makes a Good Novel
1. first-person/unreliable narrators
2. a balance of humor and tension
3. determined but slightly passive narrators
4. music
5. the omission of graphic sex scenes
6. the omission of graphic death scenes unless absolutely crucial
7. charming and memorable characters
8. a female character you wish you knew in "real life"
9. travel and a change of scenery
10. good dialog
11. smart, almost self-referential writing
12. italics
13. short chapters
14. non-linear narrative
15. scenes in the rain
16. scenes to do with an airport
17. characters that fight for something
18. quests/journeys
19. a clear image of living quarters
20. clever subplots that weave in and out and come together at the end
21. characters who are lonely
22. city/urban settings
23. mini-stories and characters sketches (even if not crucial to the plot)
24. the moments building up to or coming out of graphic sex/violence scenes
25. a female with quirky, memorable qualities whom you can see and hear

An altogether pretty random list, but there it is: apparently what, to me, makes a good novel.

Now for

MCII: Things That Bore or Depress Me in Novels
1. morally perfect characters (especially main characters)
2. overdramatic romance plots
3. Victorian settings
4. an author preaching through his characters
5. novels that lean completely on one "gimmick" or trick/surprise ending
6. morals or lessons forced upon the readers
7. insanely happy or insanely sad/grim endings
8. authors using one proven successful style, voice, or tone through all their works
9. completely humorless prose
10. long chapters with no gaps or breaks
11. completely comedic novels
12. passive, omniscient narration 100% of the time
13. no sense of the writer's own voice (not opinions--voice)
14. wordy, poetic dialog
15. long descriptions of setting
16. too many characters
17. aliens, or any over-the-top sci-fi elements
18. self-aggrandizing narrators
19. non-sympathetic characters
20. flat characters (at least an abundance of them)
21. long descriptions of overly technical elements
22. always-optimistic narrators or protagonists

With only one full day left between myself and my story,


Sunday, October 29, 2006

You were right when you said all we are is dust in the wind

Tonight The Stills are the best band in the world. The only thing that'll work. Sleep would kill this melancholy but I can't sleep for the blues themselves. It's a terrible place to get stuck.

Too many people too much too fast too soon--

and also honestly right now I hate the fact that I'm ever going back to work at the grocery store again, and hate myself a little bit for telling myself I hate it so often and never doing anything else.

I feel like Patrick circa late '90s, all angst, all frustration, all awkward, only with better music.

This album is sad-eyed and wondrous and my brain requested it specifically hours ago. I've got to get out tonight.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Kerouac writing to Ginsberg, a course handout reprinted in “The Craft of Poetry: A Semester with Allen Ginsberg” by Elissa Schappell

That is to say, I didn't write this. But you must read it and here it is, the great list, the joy in my new discovery.

Belief & Technique for Modern Prose a List of Essentials

1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house
4. Be in love with yr life
5. Something that you feel will find its own form
6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
19. Accept loss forever
20. Believe in the holy contour of life
21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
22. Dont think of words when you stop but to see picture better
23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language, & knowledge
25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
27. In Praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
29. You’re a Genius all the time
30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven

As ever,

Friday, October 27, 2006

I want to call requests through heating vents

and do nothing right now, or ever again, other than listen to The Weakerthans, drink hotwhiskeycider, and watch the snow.

The reality: in five days I will be writing a novel.
The reality: in thirty-five days I will have written a novel.

What I will need:

1. ideas
2. computer
3. time
4. courage
5. hotwhiskeycider
6. sweaters
7. your unconditional love and support

Tomorrow morning Jordan and I will drive Denver-Aurora-Denver-Aurora-Denver and practice being on the road; now, outside, a man singing blues to himself walking the street in snow old slush Pearl behind Colfax behind Tom's Diner.

(Next: you're a genius all the time)