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How's That Novel Coming Along, Brian?

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

How's That Novel Coming Along, Brian?

"You write your blog posts the night before, right?" Justine asks.

"I write the draft the night before, yeah.  Why?"

"Maybe you could post it tonight then."

"Why the fuck would I want to do that?" 

"Because tomorrow is the General Strike."

"So I can't check my grammar because a bunch of kids are cutting class for an education they prepaid for?"

So today is the General Strike.  For Occupy Oakland.  This is the thing they were talking about taking my kid to ( (they're not; he's safely off at daycare).  And I'd love to show my support for the front lines by not doing any online banking or writing today, except I like my money, and I don't have the luxury of take a whole day off. At least, not by choice.

One of the problems with being a self-employed writer (i.e., guy with a computer who makes his own schedule) is that some days just ain't happening.  Like today, which will be yesterday by the time this post airs, since we record our blogs before a live studio audience in advance.  And on those days, it really sucks.  You take the hit twice.  One, you didn't get shit done, and two, you feel like a bum for not getting shit done.

I read this quote once about John Steinbeck, how when he was in the middle of writing that mammoth tome Grapes of Wrath, he was constantly bitching in his journal about how unproductive he felt.  I write a couple thousand words most days, including this blog, and I've been placing stories so often of late that I am literally out of material.  

Seems no matter what, I am unsatisfied.

If that song doesn't break your heart on a Wednesday morning/Tuesday afternoon, let's arrange the funeral, Mr. Wahoo Waturi...

(And as a quick aside, check out my friends over at Shit for Fuckheads and their latest review of the Replacements' Don't Tell a Soul [].  If for nothing else than for having the balls to tackle that particular album, which for 'Mats' fans is an oddity.  It's Paul's unabashed attempt at selling out [a concept I wholeheartedly endorse], which yields a mixed crop [and subsequent -metaphor] of uneven tunes, featuring what might just be the best pop song ever written [like in the history of rock 'n' roll], "I'll Be You," and as SFF points out, a banner alt-country prototype "Achin' to Be" [although I'll take exception with my buddy Chris, since the tune isn't about Paul in a gender-reversal role; it's about Amy Kross, my crush from college].  But it also has some real shit-bombs, like the forced "We'll Inherit the Earth," which crashes under its own weight of trying to be too much and comes off, like much of the record, as an immature, overarching anthem with no clear object of ire, aimlessly adrift in an unfocused sea of scorn.)

I complain.  It's what I do.  First no one was taking my stories.

Now I have none left to take, and think I should've been aiming higher.  Although I did just place what I think might be the best thing I've ever written over at Drunken Boat, which is consistently listed among the best online journals.  I say this is the best thing I've ever written because the editor of DB wrote this in his acceptance the other day:

Dude, I think this is the best thing you've ever written.

And for those of you who know that Drunken Boat's editor is Ravi Shankar, my former poetry professor at Central Connecticut State University, and that he is only saying that to defend nepotism, I can tell you that ain't Ravi's style.  Ravi's style is to pretend he never got the other stories that I sent him.  ("No, never got that one about the hit man and badgers.  Must've gotten lost in my spam...")

(Seriously, wait till you see this new one, "The Meat."  It's pretty fucking remarkable.  It also takes the record for the longest, hardest I've ever worked on a single short story.  Wonder if there is a direct correlation between the two?  Doubt it.)

Anyhow, back to writing.  It's National Write a Novel Month (  And I'm tempted to do it.  Not because I need any fucking pep talks.

(BTW, if you're going to go all Chicken Soup for the Soul on my ass and offer cheesy platitudes, is it too much to ask that you fucking punctuate correctly?)  I could, however, use the...nudge.

Writing a novel comes down to one thing: fucking writing it.  And that is a daunting task, even if I've written a few of them before, the last of which being The Payback, which is a sequel to the Lone Palm/Wake the Undertaker, a book no one published, let alone asked for a sequel to, which featured at its heart the story of a lethal hit man trained by a handless woodsman who forced him to sleep in a large burlap sack with badgers (seemed like literary gold at the time, Jimmy...).  Which sorta fucked me up.  I wrote 70K that will never see the light of day.  That's a lot of fucking words for naught, so going back in, I'm a little gun shy.  I feel a bit like Joe Thiesman after meeting L.T. in a dark parking lot.

The fucked-up part is that I am certain whatever novel I write next will be published. I've figured this shit out.  I only need to take what I've been doing with my (noir) short stories and put it in a book.  I've known this for a while.  And still, I haven't started it.  Which makes me feel a little like Brian.

Everybody is going to write a book.  Writers need to actually write them.

So, no, Love, I can't take the day off.  There is a wall over there that is in need of some head-pounding...

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At November 2, 2011 at 2:35 PM , Blogger Jade Leaf said...

Do it re:NaNoWriMo - I'm stuck on 2,045 so far. Since I decided to do it my girl bailed and the ceiling is leaking (you get the picture)- It kind of makes me determined. It will either make for compelling stuff or I will end up with 50,000k worth of shit - but what the hell else am I going to do!


At November 3, 2011 at 7:10 PM , OpenID said...

I probably need to write 50,000 words in order to make the current short story I've spent the last couple of months on even see the light of day, because I just read my labor of love and realized it has NO point.

That will give me enough to pull something, anything from.

Or not.

Letting go of my words is hard. Very hard.

I remember reading an interview with Tori Amos, who is prolific with music, where she said she was always amazed at how much crap she had to write to write that "something good." I try to remember that when I find myself with stacks homeless of papers littering each corner of my room.


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