Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why I Will Never Be 'Artsy'

If there's one thing I have learned from my explorations of the "indie"/"artsy" literary world, it is that the scene is predominantly an intransigent party that exists for the single purpose of inserting one's genitalia into another's mouth. That, and party has also reached capacity.  The sentences I have written thus far are not "edgy" enough, they're not incredibly short or incredibly long, and not every word has some obscure rule of Capitalizing Every Word.  My writing is to tell stories and to show a scene and to show dialogue and allow the reader to be transported to the world of my characters.  It is, first and foremost, to entertain.  When people will read my book, it won't change their perception of the world or themselves.  There may be an epiphany, but I hope it doesn't change who they are.  I'm not nearly conceited enough to think that my writing, nor my worldview, is the correct or most morally valid one.  I'm not writing out of some need to project myself onto others' consciousness.  People who do that are known as evangelicals here in the South, and it isn't something I strive for.  I love all sorts of people in their mannerisms and quirks; in their loves and their hates; in their passions and their lethargies.  The purpose that the majority of the world will pick up a book isn't to be told that they are right or wrong -- it is to be entertained.  I don't want to lose sight of that.

I am constantly told through the enternits that I am not good enough, smart enough, deep enough to be a writer.  Readers are, as the enternits inform me, much like Remora, preoccupied with latching onto the nipple or taint of any "indie" reader who is not white and/or has hellacious sideburns (man or woman) and that it would be much better for the Starbucks latte sippers and beanie-wearing hipsters if I just give up my attempt at "art."  It would in the end provide much less angst for everyone involved -- from myself, to the four or five lamentable sets of eyes that had to flit across my pages.*

To me, there is nothing worse in this world than being part of that "misunderstood" orgy of "indie" writers.  Do I say this because, secretly, I want in?  I don't think so.  I think I have a natural inclination towards fineries such as nice watches, polo shirts, and pressed pairs of khakis.  I like my hair short and clean, and only a sprinkle of facial hair every once and a while.  My room is clean (mostly) and I speak clearly and don't do drugs.  I'm not a practicing Christian, but I'm not an Atheist either.  My ideal situation is in a monogamous relationship with a woman and a dog and two kids and a white picket fence where I would write in the front bay window and leave only to go get food, pick my children up from sports, or to the nearest polling place to vote for my favorite Republican candidate.  I will never be a part of their world because I choose to be different from them.  I choose to live a life of sanitation and of sunlight, and not of dingy holes-in-the-wall, greasy fedoras, and bong resin. 

With that being said, there is something I do appreciate about indie meanderings masquerading as contemplative thought: their writings will, every once and a while produce a diamond.  "The Human Condition" is a favorite topic of theirs, for which a wide variety of definitions has been slapped onto it.  The Human Condition is about as nebulous a term as you can have, but intrinsically it has something to do with our innate need to destroy.  I don't think that we would have this endless well of psuedo-prophetic rambling without the original inquiry of what is human?  The question is immediately vague and worthless, but I love it so much because it helped me get through college.  There, see?  It's not all bad.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some selling out to do.


*Maybe a truly unfortunate soul had already lost an eye in a barroom brawl, pepper shaker incident, or warring with pirates.  This would, of course, put the "eye-count" down to a mere 3 1/2 - 4 1/2 sets.  However, there is something inherently "indie" about an eye patch, so it would perhaps raise my overall viewership closer to six -- two of which may even be terry-cloth headbanded teenagers who write angsty poems in their Moleskines while smoking marijuana.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Today is a Good Day.

It is a good day today. Writers are publishing, striving, and thriving. I am reading and writing at a break-neck clip (more on the Novel Blog to come shortly) and I had an entire weekend of a contemplative respite from the busy city and feel refreshed and focused on my craft... even when I'm at my soul-sucking day job. Today, three names are circling my brain: Therese Walsh, Stuart Neville, and Michael Chabon.

One of the first writing blogs I read was Writer Unboxed that is run by a gamut of people, but one of the founders of the site is Therese Walsh who's debut novel is out today. The Last Will of Moira Leahy is primarily for women and has been getting awesome reviews. I'm very happy for this new author and everything that she has gone through to get to where she is now. It's a big moment for any author, and one that is getting these kinds of reviews, well, good things are in store for sure! I think why so many people are actively rooting for Ms. Walsh is because yes, she is an author, but she is more than that. Through her site, she has become a friend to so many authors and readers alike. People will go to the book store today to pick up The Last Will because they like her. I don't know too much about the book (and what little I do know, I won't try to explain here) but I have this inkling that after work (around 4:30) I'm going to head to the Barnes and Noble across one of the busiest intersections in Atlanta, march my butt up to the counter and ask for a book who's genre is "Women's Fiction." I don't think that I would have ever picked this book up, no matter HOW much someone tried to goad me into it, because of that outlier of being "Women's Fiction," but for Ms. Walsh, (I'm going to call you Therese) I'll make an exception.

Stuart Neville's breakout novel - The Ghosts of Belfast - landed on U.S. soil a few weeks ago. I'm always interested in books with the connotation of being in the genre of 'horror'. It always seemed to me that I couldn't become scared by a book, but then I started reading some Stephen King and all of a sudden... I understood. I always thought terror to be something more visceral (if not low-brow) with slasher flicks like Saw and The Exorcist, I thought that to be scared by something, you had to see it, but these authors have taught me otherwise. James Ellroy, another very prominent (and very scary) author has already swathed Neville's first foray to the point of hyperbole, saying that it is the best first novel by an author he has ever read. (not verbatim) Really, really excited about this book, and I don't think it could get here fast enough.

Finally, I'm going through a really fun romp through the ever-growing life work of Michael Chabon. I picked up Gentlemen of the Road on my Kindle a few weeks back, and read through it rather quickly. Then I picked up his semi-auto-biography Manhood For Amatuers and I absolutely loved the glimpses into the mind of one of the best writers of prose alive today. Now I'm working my way through The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (Note: the link isn't to a current edition... I bought this one, it's the limited edition. I think I was lucky to find it.) which is another delightful display of prose from anything else I have read by him. I'm only about halfway through the relatively short book, but it is definitely dense enough to warrant a second reading. I found it interesting that he wrote this book so young, and it puts me in one of those "why-not-me?" mentalities. I enjoy these fires clear and unextinguishable passion for the craft that I practice that have been burning for a while now and don't seem to be going away. Michael Chabon has, better than any other author I have read, made me feel like I can do this too. I think it's his utter brilliance that he can make his writing come off with such ease (or, at least, it seems that way on the page) and can make the whole idea of writing so attainable because it almost seems like he is goading the reader, saying "See? Look how easy this is." I know that it's not easy. Even for him, but damn, those long, prophetic, sexy sentences and metaphores seem to flow almost too easily.

So what is it that these three have to do with eachother? They are all inspirations to me in their own ways. Therese makes me want to write blogs and get my name out there, Stuart makes me want to fight hard and expand my writing horizons and gives me hope, and Chabon is the master of letters that is capable of transporting me to the Pittsburgh of Art Bechenstein. These three have given me joy and prodded at the fires (however futile) of my own writing aspirations. Everyday I write harder and better because of people like this who have, at least to a certain extent "made it." I hope one day someone will mention me in their blog in this same way.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

It was a Close Race, But...

Unfortunately, for all of my fans out there... I figured you should hear it straight from me: I am not the recipient of the 2009 Nobel Prize for Literature. It is, in fact, Herta Müller - a Romanian author who was selected because of her "concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed."

Now comes the all-to-common outcry of college-age beatniks who will immediately start shouting "OH, I totally went through a Müller phase in high school, good for her, winning that prize. It's about time she was recognized." Meanwhile, I'll sit here, where I always sit, and wonder who the fuck is Herta Müller? I don't think anyone really knows. She's scary as shit, though. She probably glared at the Swedes and they paid her with a medal and 1.4 USD's just to back down her hateful leer.

Really though, good for her. She should smile more though. I don't mean that in a chauvinistic "women should always be ____" sort of way... I just mean she just seems like a very pissed off person. Hopefully this award will bring some joy to her life and turn that frown upside down.

Now, back to being a F-List Writer!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

One of those Typical "I'm Not Dead" Headlines.

No, I'm not dead. Quite to the contrary, I've been incredibly busy since the last time I posted here. With my outline done for my Novel, I am taking a step back from that project to work on three other stories that I'd like to get out in time for some contests. There's a lot of little things going on, so I'm going to write a series of paragraphs completely irrelated [sic] with one another. (except being about writing and me, of course)

Over the last seven days I have written a total of 5,000 words... I don't know if that's a lot, but I am trying to write even faster. I feel like I write EXCRUCIATINGLY slow to the point of tedium. To give an example, I had a paragraph that was already completed on my longest short story (It's going on 34 pages. It's a monster and I don't know if any contests would want it. It's good, but the length is pretty epic for a short story piece.) and I went back and edited that fucker for about an hour. I rewrote the entire thing probably four or five times until it was perfect. This would have been fine, I think, except it completely fucked over my groove. I had nothing after that. Revisions are a dangerous animal, especially when you're just trying to get your story on paper... they're somewhat like a Grizzly Bear, but instead of sharp, flesh-rending claws, they have... well... okay so revisions are nothing like a Grizzly... maybe an Aardvark or Kakapo. Yeah, Kakapo. Since it FUCKS your HEAD. (see: link)

I filled up a moleskine this weekend. I was pretty excited about that. I bought one of those three packs at Barnes & Noble, and when I purchased it, the lady behind the counter had the "oh-God-another-one-of-these-wannabes-again" look on her face. As I said in an earlier post, my intention is to constantly fight through the prevailing idiom of "that guy"-ism and beat all the tried and true stereotypes of people like me. So in that way, I was thrilled that I could fill one up. It's hanging on my cork board now... along with everything else I'm doing. It looks cluttered, but there is some method to my madness.

I don't know if it's because I am a massive tool bag, or what, but people with normal jobs like accountants and lawyers are depressing me now. When I see them I want to ask "Is this really what you want to do with your life? Are you really excited about reading that dull, sterile professional writing?" It just seems like they aren't really doing what they love. "Love what you do, and you'll never work a day in your life." That's kind of the mantra I'm going for I guess. Jesus, I am just a vestibule for horrible, life-affirming cliches.

I've found myself futzing around more literary websites recently. There are about five or six that now inhabit my Favorites list, and I read them primarily because they update nearly every day. It's nice to be able to sit down and read about writing even when you are seemingly stuck in Corporate Town, USA. I'm going to make a blog roll to the right of this post. Please visit the sites, I think that they're some of the best sources around for writers... unlike this one, which may become a black hole of creativity and happiness. I don't mean for it to, but you can't control these things. Black holes form with or without my consent. I think I'll blame this one on Blogger.

Anyway, that's essentially it. For all the work I've been doing for the past two weeks, there is very little to show for it. I'm excited right now because even though what I am doing right now is more than likely drivel, I can look back at my previous work and see that my drivel has at least become better. Writing is not easy, but seeing improvement has been a source of joy and inspiration for me for, Jesus, over a year now! I never really celebrated my one-year-anniversary with my love of writing. Just kind of passed that one up. Oh well, there's nothing to be mentioned about my work yet. Still not even published in a magazine or website yet (besides the blog that I edit and contribute to - ) but it will all come in time. When it does, you'll be the first to know. Yeah, you. Talking to you now. You have a little something hanging from your nose... might want to get that off. No, no... the other side. There. Good. Yay!