A sometimes half-arsed record of the process of writing in its' variegated many forms.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A reminiscence

The other day I was rummaging through the storage bins of my memory, and I found the remains of what may be the first short story I ever wrote. It turns out that in what must've been third or fourth grade we had to write somekind of story about living on the frontier, and I chose to create a journal for a cowboy who was on a cattle drive from Oklahoma or Kansas or somewhere on North along the Chisholm trail to the railroads that would take them back East. Well, being the strange one that I am, I chose to focus on the lonliness of being out there. There were stampedes and other troubles, but mostly our man was overwhelmed by lonesomeness and eventually he hung himself with his own belt.
Of course, all this is from memory, so I can't be sure of the exact details, but the general story is as I represented it here. Pretty wierd to think that I was writing existentially at the age of eight or nine, but actually that's probably fairly in keeping with my long held worldview. I've always been most captured by the difficult, the heavy, the solitary aspects of life. The things that we have to struggle through alone in our own minds, those are what affect me greatly, and it's just interesting, for me at least, to remember one more quick little aspect of my own long career as a dirging writer.

Friday, February 22, 2008

stylistics, bravery, tapioca

Anyone who has read Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World will probably realize now that I've mentioned the book that the above blogtitle was an homage to Marukami's chapter titles. The difference being he actually works his way around to all the weird, non-sequitorish stuff he uses, and I'm just putting together some stream-of-consciousness nonsense. I do want to talk about stylistics a little bit because I do have to try and cut down on my steady diet of overused adjectives and adverbs. It's strange since I am actually very critical that I'm constantly hitting up the thesaurus for synonyms of superlatives like awesome and brilliant and amazing. I can't seem to praise stuff highly enough, and I think that comes from the severe negativity that I see in a lot of newspaper reviews and such. I should feel freer to be more critical. I never thought I would see those words come out of my brain, but there they are.
On the rest of the writing tip, there really isn't much to report this week. I've been on hold all week, just because I couldn't muster up the energy needed to get on the creative project at all. It is not easy to keep a steady pace of writing with all the otherness that I indulge in or do. Got's to pay the bills and such. Regardless, I did make some headway on the secretarial work of the Skattershot Backstory stuff for MishMash, so that's good, but I'm getting to a place that will require some real life editing, so we'll see how that goes. Made a few moves with E the G, but I need to work on my transitions a little bit. It's right at a crucial first act transition, and it's feeling a little curt if I cut away from them now, but the essential info has been delivered and we need to move into the meat of the act because there's been a lot of the wandering character development that is my stock and trade. I want to hit some offhanded chardev in the move into Eddie's big blowup scene. Oh, and I do need to bring in a scene with just Eddie and Lilly, so that we can see why she might be with him because right now it feels forced. Just trying to work out on describing the process a little. On to the show.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

It's beyond time

It is so way past my need for sleep, and I'm just crawling along for the vague reason that I felt like I still had something to say. The weekdays are chock full and overstocked with time constraints that keep me from writing, and so I wanted to get this little thing down since I've lost the ability to write coherently enough to work on the more structured non-blog projects. I had said over on my myspace blog that I was gonna make a mad move on them, but as it turns out, I just too wiped too really get that together. Understandibly so as it's been another week in the sleep deprivation chamber, but it just sucks is all, and tomorrow is for real people.
Righ quick here is...ShastA, what was it I wanted to say? Okay, it's interesting to note the shifting of style that has been part of the process of all the time blogging (I still absolutely hate that frickin' word), which is completely different than the tonal smoothness of my journal writing. There the tone shifted slowly and over time. Here it's much more dramatic and angular.
That's not what I wanted to talk/write about at all. One thing was the idea, ah there it is. So, just an idea about the nature of shifting from the freeformness of this stuff to actual paid writing for magazines or alternative newsweeklies, not that I'm trying to get into that kinda' thing just now, but an interesting idea. As opposed to reviewing a book or film or music from the objective stance so common in that kind of stuff, it's more interesting to talk about how that stuff effects you, and what kind of mood it evokes in yr subjectivity. Also the idea of looking at books, maybe in multiples as I often read several books at a clip, in the process of reading as opposed to simply once the whole process is complete and you've got the bigger picture (see last AHAUM post). It is now time for bed. I'm done.

I'm checking in, I'm checking out

Admittedly, there's not a whole lot to report on the writing front. School has usurped a lot of my creative time, although I got a some good work on E the G and MishMash, if just briefly. I really need to buckle myself down to the editorial work required for this step in MM, but it's drudging mostly because I wrote out by hand all of the material that I'm in the process of editing. So, there's an element of secretarial work to this particular edit move, as I've got to type up all the stuff as I go.
It's strange that the transition from hand written to typed seems to augment the material. I'm not sure that I could have gotten the kind of tone I have going in the, let's call it, Shattershot Backstory if I hadn't gone with the paper and pen approach, but the writing itself seems more comfortable in the plainness and uniformity of typed-upness. Whatever that all might mean, it does seem to be true. I've been required to do surprisingly little actual editing, and mostly just have to sit and type and type and type. This is the distinctive disadvantage of this approach, and I have a lot of stuff that is gonna be a serious pain to process because it's all pen and ink work. Still, I'm not so totally unhappy with the results I'm currently getting that I want to chuck it all in and start an ant farm. Still it is actually fairly difficult to edit as I'm typing, which is probably why the whole thing feels like such a slog to me.
As far as E the G, I'm pretty happy with what's been forthcoming as far as characterizations. The tighter structure really allowed me to breathe more individuated life into the different people that populate this script, but I've got to get some handle on who are the people in the play with Lilly. Lilly is Eddie's girl or maybe more accurately Eddie is Lilly's boy, and she is in a play. When she brings the other cast members to the bar, Ed reacts badly to the whole thing. What that's all about I'm not sure. Like I wrote, I really need to spend some quality conceptual time with the next move in plot and character.
So, anyway, I do blog like a madman, which is good, and doesn't seem to distract me too much off of my schoolwork thus far, but cross-referenced modulates and the crazed-junkie fad diet have had to take a backseat. They require more character building than I have time for, especially CRM. I want to get Jhazz James into it, but he's like the serious straight ahead intellectual of the group, and so his first review is going to be a study of Cornel West's Democracy Matters. That kind of dovetails with the play part of The Coffee Shoppe because as the first act I want to have all the characters in one on one discussions about books or plays as a way to introduce them. Two of the characters are gonna get on West, so it'll fit together once I find the time. I do want to hit up crazed junkie a little today, and I have some stuff for it and a piece of his first review for CRM, which is Bukowski's Ham on Rye.
I just quickly want to address the idea of working out specific plot and character in this space, which I don't totally. I've hinted at it, and there's a taste of it here, but I mostly just observe where were at and structural and conceptual stuff. It's something to think about, but I'm not entirely sure how that might go. Okay, so maybe I did have something to report.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Self help book for the slightly inebriated

I recorded this project about five or six years ago. Around the time I made The Lost Tapes of Murkinson and Burr, which are ironically enough now truly lost. Basically, it was ponderous thought on the nature of life and related troubles, but I found that when I went back to try and sift through the fifteen or so hours of material that I had recorded that the material came off as dull and vapid unless I'd had a few cocktails. Then it all sounded profound and lifechangingly meaningful. You know that extra color streetlights have after a few drinks? That's basically how this project came off. It needed just a little bit of added color from the recipient. Yet I had intended the material in all seriousness and had been very intent and serious in the process of recording. I guess that's a little sad. Well, in the end it was just offhanded nonsense in building through a transitionary element in my own personal writing from a highly emotional to a more philosophical outlook on the nature of the life of mine. In that sense, I suppose the project was a successful venture, but I still like the vaguely useless nature of a Self-help book that requires the reader to be slightly inebriated to be in a place to truly intake the unstructured and wandering lessons I would then impart. They would be heavy, I promise. Just have some whiskey.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

detached irony

The ironic distance that is such a successful and well-recieved tool of the modern writer or memoirist is completely beyond me. I can get ironic, but I can't get the distance required to really hit the right and not sour note. I'm just too wrapped up in the existing, and I can't get outside of it. I know it's my tragic flaw, but I feel endeared to it nonetheless. Besides, it's just so au cuarant (sic?), that I can't get with it anyway. I mean, I have my reputation to protect.
You see now, how ugly and useless my attempts are.
So, anyway, on to other things.
There is a strange or maybe just a natural connection between the inner emotional state and the exhalating creative work. It's a quite clear and yet opaque pattern that relates the fragility of imagination in a way that can't really be expressed well or at all. It just means that when we try to sit down with our daemons or face up to the wilds or however we break creative, we must be attuned to that innerself from which the tonal ambiquities are resolved long before we ever breathe life onto the page or word or string or whatever. It's all in the rythm of the soul, and will not be successfully cheated or pretended.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Where it's at

While I've been heavy on the blogging, I've been severely limited in my creative work in the other areas that need moving on. The problem being of course that now with school back in I just don't have all afternoon to put in the conceptual work necessary to move forward on E the G or really hit up editing some of the other screenplay stuff. I can and hopefully will momentarily get down on some MishMash stuff, but I'm not totally into it because it's the full dress edit process. I like the mini-edit maneuver of as you go work, but going all the way back I always come to the conclusion that it's totally hopeless, and I might as well throw in the towel now and save myself a big steaming pile of trouble. That's unfair and I think I need to dance out some of my blues just now, but then, oh then, I am so on this memoir move. I mean come on. I'm past the rough patch that was my life at the end of '06, so it should be all downhill until we get to the bottom of adolescence and have to slog back up shiite messin' with my mind mountain. Can't wait! enough on that for now.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

satiated and still not satisfied

Just a couple of notes on a few different projects here:

As to the blogging, it's getting wild and wooly in here. I'm constantly getting ideas for posts for the various blogplaces I'm into, and I'm even beginning to revisit anything going on in my life as a blog post in my head. Every quirky turn of phrase I hear makes me think "hey, that would be a catchy blogtitle". I'm now constantly scribbling notes about the things I want to write about. I can't escape.

It also occurred to me after a particularly rough Monday morning coming down that all the togetherness I had built up over the past few weeks got spent on a weekend of mild debauch, which just kills me these days. It may result in some short-term creative output, but the long-term result is hindrance not help. So keep it together on the S+N+E+I=LP (sleep+nutrition+exercise+interaction=Lasting productivity).

I had this what I now think is a muddle-headed, harebrained idea for E the G, which was to create a trifecta of movies about bloggers that were all coming out together and would be the reviews that Eddie gets all paranoid-delusional about because he, himself, was blogging about writing. I now think that's the wrong approach. Upon reflection I realize that Eddie is so not a blogger. Also it's just too repetitive and inbred an idea. I do like the idea that I'll cast these made up movies with actual actors and have the fictional reviewers review their performances. That'll be hella' fun. For a minute I thought I would use the Darwin trilogy as the movies just because it would be cool to cast them, even just in my fantasies, but again way to repetitive and inbred, and also the storyline isn't fully in place all the way through to the third movie.

As to Darwin's Child, I think I want to use the Hashhashin as the final battle. Going with the idea that this band of wild hash smoking assassins who have passed down their skills from the old school Abbasid days still exists and is hired by the UN shadow conspiracy, we'll then have a final showdown with the hashhashins and the shaolin monks at the temple with the American Man and his crew. It sounds like an idea that could snowball into campiness if not carefully crafted, and I don't want that awful ironic campstyle that they tried with the Fantastic Four. That was miserable. I really want my thing more in the LOR mythic category, so it's a highwire act for sure. Anyway...

Monday, February 4, 2008


Oh, to be wholeheartedly bombastic; it is the joy of life. Perhaps that's a bit of an overstatement, but that's entirely keeping with the spirit of the bombast. To be bloated and ugly with the malformations of uninhibited statements of questionable factuality, that is what it means to be really getting out there and digging into the heart of wide world of web-based anonymity. Making potentially damaging claims that can't be backed up but can't be disproved either, that's a skill worth pursuing, and an undoubted money-making venture. No, I kid because, well, for no reason other than the continuing movement of my fingers along the sleek and sliding keys of the board. I felt the need to share.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Editorializing for a cup of tea

My editorial process has been developing over the years, but it's starting to get honed into the sword of Damacles as I've been actually trying to seriously edit some of my stuff lately. Now I'm constantly editing as I go; going back through what I've just written and then going back through it again winnowing away all the chaff that my long-winded self inevitably produces. It's really starting to be a fun process, although I do feel a little wierd and obsessive as I'm constantly rereading my own stuff now. It feels a little cannabalistic, but them's the shakes, right? That's what it's all about to be a writer: intensity, inspiration, and constant regurgitations.
I did some solid editorial work on...actually that stuff is strictly rewrite. I did some rewrite on Darwin's Child just a little bit ago, and it's not entirely overblown, totally cheesed out, or completely incomprehensible, so I feel mildly successful. While I do want that stuff to have a more mythic feel, I've changed my mind on hindering a rewrite until I have more time to soak up some good old Greek tragedy or general mythic stuff. There's always the next rewrite, which is rapidly becoming my mantra.
On editing I'm at a really good place with MishMash right now. Last night during cocktail hour I started to reread some stuff I had written essentially to be a novel, but that ended up being backstory on the actual novel that I've written the first third of but have put aside for the time being. It was actually not horrible. It had some existential evocations, which I was feeling, but I had had a few cocktails at that point, so, you know. No, seriously, I read some again this morning, and it does need some polish, but it's good in a, man, I really wish I could write like Willa Cather kind of way. My current thinking is that I'm gonna include it in the section of MM that I'm working on now, with some spitshine as I go. Things are good in the Brown Dog house today.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Choral structures, Coffee split, and other tidbits

I realized yesterday as I was rereading The Coffee shop that I really need to work on how I structure choruses into songs. I wrote several songs into the movie, but the choruses (chorai?) only really work for the first one. I have a tendency to just write a verse as the chorus and then call for repetition instead of really building solid hooks that interact with the lyrics. I also don't have the melody in my head anymore for the last song, so it feels really awkward and off kilter. So I need to work on that, especially for the Song Cycle for Lyra, the world's most awesomest niece. I reread the one song I've written for the cycle, and it's not as horrible as my memory was telling me it was.
On a slightly related note, I wrote a concept album when I was 20 with the concept that all of our friends are really strangers. I wrote songs trying to get into what I really knew about several of my friends. Somehow out of the process came the idea to use the chorai (I'm going with that) as verses in a mid and final song. So there are two songs that collect together the choruses (okay, I'm wavering). It actually seemed to work, but my cousins and I only worked up the first few songs, so I never really got to try and sing the choral songs with guitars and such.
As to the Coffee Shop split, the idea being that in order to keep the read through of the original draft of Darwin's Child still a part of the CS, I could split them into a play and a screenplay. I actually think the idea could work within the context of wow look at how crazy I am I wrote a screenplay that leads into a theatrical play moreso than it's actually commercially produceable. That's all just gravy anyway. A writer writes to write, not to be produced. That will be my mantra until I get the chance to sell the frick out.
Anyway, enough on the ranting writer, I was trying to work how the play section would work. Would it just pick up where the movie left off, or how would that whole thing work? So my idea is to make it into a two act thing with the first act as character introductions, basically do some more slacker-like meet the characters as they hang around kind of stuff for the first act. Basically scenes that are missing from the film, and then go write into it in the second act, but really work up the whole meta-commentary aspect. I also want to really edit that stuff as within the script if that makes sense. The actual Darwin's Child has already been reconcieved heavily and partially rewritten, but I do want do decheesify some of the dialogue for the play and film even if it isn't a part of the actual DC stuff. Okay, now even I'm confused.

Eddie the Grouch

That is ostensibly the working title for the screenplay that I'm writing currently, but it's growing on me as an actual legit title. No doubt no one but me will ever agree with that, which is why I will probably be writing for the fun of it and never make it to the rank of professional. It does give you a different vibe than the one I catch from reading interviews with long-standing professional writers. That's actually a pretty useless statement, as we all have completely unique processes, so it's a nontransferrable construct, this vibeness.
Anyway, I wrote a couple of the early scenes for E the G, and it went really well. Having a tighter structural wall within which to build was a solid success so far. I have decided that I'm going to stick with a 3 act structure, as opposed to the 2 acts and an epilogue, just because I have a lot of material I want to use for the third act. I also want it to be clear that the movie moment that ends the second act was not a totally lifetransforming moment; that his insanity and paranoia will creep back into his life if he's not careful, and that life is a constant emergant proposition. There is no eureka moment that absolutely changes everything and does away with all yr past flaws and inconsistencies. There are flashes of inspiration and understanding that can be built upon to continue on an upward trajectory, but the happily ever after is a known fraud that I think cheats filmgoers a little bit in that we can have happy within the context of reality that will help us all to move in that direction or we can continue to imbue escapist nonsense into the crevices of our minds that will leave us ultimately feeling unfulfilled by movies and by life.
Okay, enough on the ranting for the moment. I also decided that in the second act when Eddie starts to go all schitzoid and thinks that the local film and book reviewers are secretly critisizing his novel that I'm gonna make up film and book plots and concepts instead of using actual ones. Hopefully I'll be get it together on Cross-referenced modulates a little bit to get better at writing reviews, but all good things, right?

Friday, February 1, 2008

period of the zygote

In some ways I really feel like my writerly development is highly embryonic, but I guess that's part of the trial by fire that is the process for all good things. What would it be worth if it was an easy and all-the-time fun process. Not that I don't ultimately love it, but it's hard and a lot of my current work feels sloppy and droll and whatever.
Anyway, I've broke through a little on the autobio project, and got to a place where I'm a little more comfortable and ambulatory, which is nice. I've also got Eddie the Grouch, which is my semi-amusing working title for the schitzoid paraniod man project, into solid structural shape to actually dig in and do some writing. On that note, I'm thinking that I'm going to make the thing two acts with an epilogue as opposed to the traditional three because it just feels more natural for the project. The idea is to get to the final filmic ending with swelling music and solid feel good moment (as much as is possible), and then fade back in on Eddie sitting on his front porch slouched and depressed smoking a cigarette. Then through the epilogue we get that he is in a solid place and moving forward with his life but slightly slipping back into the insanity of his paranoia. I mean just because he writes the book doesn't mean he's off the hook. Not in my world it doesn't.