Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Piss Off Shit & C.: Miscellaneous, Including Writing My Novel

My legions of breathless fans will be thrilled to know that I've pretty much kept up with the 500-or-more words per day on my book. More below.

First--Did everyone see the Piers Morgan "interview" with pro-gun whack job Alex Jones? Excuse me, Piers, but how useful or helpful is it to get a fucking moron like this guy on your show, piss him off, have him erupt and then purport, if not journalism, "useful debate?" Give me a break.

Second--Some of the distractions, such as Facebook, & C.

OK, the book, and On Writing.

I earned a Creative Writing Masters Degree at San Francisco State University, and in so doing, I read countless graduate student manuscripts (they suffered through mine as well) and I don't know how many undergraduate ones (they did not suffer through mine, but through each others' which was arguably less taxing). I'm not sure why I'm bringing this up. Maybe it has to do with establishing my bona fides on talking about writing.

Writing classes and seminars are a chimera, just as is graduating from real estate school and getting a real estate license is a chimera that purports to qualify you to know something about real estate. It's not total bullshit, but it's damned close. Writing seminars are pretty much whiny therapy groups, where everyone trades stories about their parents and others being mean to them.

Real Estate School, and licensing, is like no other thing I know of in America. A five- or six-percent commission on a home sale is inordinately lucrative, can't come close to justifying the per-hour cost involved, yet it's not like law school or medical school, which are also bars to professional licensing (and has a far lower standard than, say, a massage therapist's license). But people do it, and worse, the public buys in, and I'm talking about both real estate and writing schools and seminars.

But I digress, Dear Reader.

Writing is hard. I'm up to around 10,000 words, which, I think, is pretty good, but I could easily rewrite every word if I wanted to, and, in fact, fight myself not to. It's never right. Some of what I've done has voice, some is interesting, but some is explicative, which seems to me a big fat snooze when I re-read it.

What's voice: I'm sure there are better definitions than I can give, but to me, it's the energy behind any writing that gives it its definition and meaning and force and uniqueness. It's like a well-done brand label, in that you know what it is the second you set eyes on it. Hemingway or Dickens or Clemens, for instance. Or Amy Tan. So many others. Anne Tyler.

I find myself despairing over so much of what I've written, but at the same time, some of it amuses me, as though it came from someone else, and I'm either a medium or a transcriber. Go figure.

So, here's the scenario. The setting is a real estate development similar to Orenco Station, except it's not, just sort of. Right now, it's placed in Eugene, OR, (a) so I won't get distracted with the real Orenco Station, (b) keep it out of Portland, because I pretty much think distinctive cities like that are as much a character as the people and I don't want this, and (c) Eugene is a town which is not only easy to kick around, but has a Rorschach quality to it (Editor's note: How many people realize Ann Tyler's novels are set in Baltimore? Just sayin').


The characters are all composites of people I have known, including myself, who, arguably, I know less about than anyone else. I think that's a lot of what's behind this book-writing caper--finding out what I'm all about. The hard part is that people who know me will read part of the manuscript and say, "O, that person is so-and-so," or "Oh, that's you when..."

Not. Kind of, sort of, I guess, but once you set characters in motion, they sort of tell you where things go. Yes, I'm drawing on my thirty-five years of experience in commercial real estate, but I hope that does nothing more than help create a fictive and not-too-boring world.

So, not much to do but plug on, at this point. What's a novel? A hundred thousand words? Has anyone ever counted?

No comments:

Post a Comment