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

Sunday, August 30, 2009

When I'm having trouble writing

Lately, I've been expending generous helpings of time on long winded blog posts as a means towards one part of an effort to gather up some ideas on the idea of the mythic, among other things. Econ has gotten some time as well as behavioral econ, political economy, pol-econ history just now (Amity Schlaes' The forgotten Man, which is this seductive siren song of American prosperity. Yakuza!), and just in general books and ideas related to the questions of superstructural economic organization, which really can't be sensibly extricated from the superstructural problems of national political organization. I'm just saying. Can't be done. Not meaningfully. When the fields are split (and this applies more widely to all methodological narrowing known generally as disciplination and specialization), the assumptive choices that could've been answered through a wider scope of knowledge and methodology then become more problematic because, well, quite frankly, you could and probably will guess wrong.

Just quickly on economics cause it's in my head right at this moment. They do guess wrong. I've been looking at some basic economic formulas, and the pscyho-socio-political information that is ignored or assumed to be X is so far quite generally missing the mark. The formulas are not wrong, they are just at best one small equative estimation of human existence and interaction. I won't say more as I've only taken brief and small glimpses at the math in the field.

So, I've been doing a lot of studying and organizing ideas and some small, wandering blog writings. And I have done some editing of the novel(50 or so pages [of which probably 65% of the original drafts 50 pges were totally rewritten {i.e. cut and then started from scratch} and the other 35% has been partially rewritten and now feels like needs to be just cut and started from scratch]). And I have done substantial reconceptualization of the plot and characters of the first novel and some of the conceptual and structural work of the second novel. It's just that the structure of the second novel becomes exponentially more complicated than the first (and it's quite possible that if I do really get this stuff to at least fit, that this process will repeat again at the next iteration beginning the next novel and it will be that novel to the second power or the first novel to the third power or something).

So, I've been in a bit of a rut what with not being able to make real progress, because it's now time to, while continuing the structuro-conceptual work, it's time to sit down and write. And I just can't get it right right now. Everytime I sit down, and I have to write some of the material in notebooks and some on the computer so..., I just feel flat. I don't feel like I've got the mojo to start off a novel and get the motor running for a year of in-between all the other obstacles of my life I'm gonna write an, at least, acceptable first draft. A first draft that I can say: "well, this is dog shit, but I think we might be able to use it as fertilizer in the garden of the second draft."

That's what I want. That and a way we can organize society so that everyone can be satisfied with a good chunk of their lives. Really all of their lives. If everybody could be happy with every moment of their lives, that would be...a different world than where we come from.

Anyway, all this is just to say that I'm scattered right now, and I'm trying to organize the pieces in a way that makes sense both for the moment and for the future. And that's really hard to do sometimes. Really hard.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Trying to think things through on a Subway Platform Pt. II (for real)

Now that it's been almost two weeks since the subway platform incident, I'm going to try and generally recreate some sort of vague impression of the gist of what it was I was then thinking. Since that time, the work on the trilogic myth project (which I've just now decided maybe call it for the moment) has expanded exponentially. The world in which this story takes place is really starting to open up and build momentum in ways that it hadn't since the idea first started to take shape last summer. I think that's one of the difficulties in working in the longer form of a trilogy of novels vs. one novel or one screenplay, play, or short story. Even an individual novel is, as Murakami says, a marathon, but a trilogy all planned and executed together as one tightly interwoven structure is like an ultra-marathon (which is an actual thing and involves running 100 miles in one day [Murakami documents his own running of a UM in his semi-memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running]). And that day, going to see The Hurt Locker, was the day that the second phase or plateau of the project was reached, and this whole new vista opened up and allowed me to really begin the structural and conceptual plot and character work that was necessary to both really dig into a rewrite of the first novel and also lay the groundwork for beginning to write the first draft of the second novel, which will hopefully get underway this week. (There is a somewhat massive conceptuo-structural puzzle piece that has to be fully and deeply outlined before actual writing can begin on the second novel.)

So, once the film, The Hurt locker, wound up and the credits started rolling (leaving me a little shell shocked in intensity), I made my way out into the afternoon heat and high overhead sun. Going from the dark cold of a movie theater to the almost diametric opposite of a normal summer day is always a little jarring, but the nature of this film, this no bullshit verite of war, made the experience just that much more of a shock to the system. Apparently, that was just what I needed because although I went down the escalators and out and across to the common on autopilot, not really thinking about anything, within minutes of having started the walk to the Park St. T stop, I was instantly accosted by the inspiration of what was essentially a completely new ending for the work.

I've been struggling a little bit with how to approach the idea of talking about the work. I want to kind of stick to just a meta-discussion of the process, but it's also really tough, as talking about the process without talking about the content is like trying to wrestle a greased pig; Every time you get a grip on what you're trying to get across, the idea goes squirting out of your hands as you contort yrself around the actual specifics of the story. And, I think, the story works as a sort of mystery, and that it might ruin the effect just a bit to reveal all the details in advance.

Not that that's such a huge deal currently, as the possibility of even trying to get this thing published is light years away (at least probably two or three), and nobody reads this blog anyway. Still, I would hate to have to retrospectively have to scrub this site of spoilers for some future contract obligation or give away all the intrigue to some potential reader who happened to stumble over here by googling subway platform anxiety or something. Well, whatever. So, that kind of makes this conversation more stilted than I would like, but let's just say that there as I was walking through mid-afternoon crowds of tourists, students, business people, homeless people, all kinds of people this rush of inspiration came on that opened up the aforementioned new vistas, and I could see this whole amazing world and was then trying to maintain the level of concentration necessary to follow the thread of the story through this world as I made my way to the subway.

The first thought I had was that I can't get on the T right now. I need to just wander the city, preferably some part where the streets are deserted, but, of course, there's almost nowhere in the area around the Boston Common that would be quiet and empty of people on a Thursday afternoon; So I decided to just push on through and hope to at least hold onto the thread until I could get home and have the peace and quiet really necessary to the kinds of hyper-concentration that it takes for that kind of work, for me at least. Somehow I not only managed to keep the thread but really followed it to a somewhat satisfyingly robust conclusion, in terms of fully understanding the implications of this new shift which was itself a complete reimagining of how the trilogy would end. The old, vaguely outlined ending was essentially scrapped, and a whole new and way cooler ending were, for the most part, outlined right there on the T as it shimmied it's way down to Dorchester, and all I had to do when I got home was just write out in as detailed a manor as I could muster this newly outlined shift. Which was not just in plot but also in theme and sort of also in structure. And these shifts, as I said, have really reinvigorated the process and brought me back into that state of excited anxiousness to keep going that is a necessary component of staying with the grueling training and execution that is an ultra-marathon writing project.