Jan. 5th, 2009

happiness 6

Jan. 5th, 2009 11:08 pm
readingthedark: (Default)
Well, it was a humdrum day. Writing, the gym, lunch at Whole Foods, an out of the way coffee shop wih free wifi for writing, the gym and then some more writing. I only got 2,250 words on a new story. The deadline's fast approaching and I feel like I can pull it together within a few more days.

It's about where a grew up and, at least in some ways, it's more personal than most of what I do. This approach seems to fit what the antho's looking for. So instead of rummaging around in the memories of what I've read, I have to remember things I've actually done. Time and space are two variables I tend to reject. Anyone who knows and loves me will agree that I get lost easily and I rarely know what time it is. I went to Barnes & Noble today too. I bought Locus with a gift card and lurved the Caitlin R. Kiernan interview. She is so the dreamiest. I happened to talk to her right before she did this interview, so it was nice to see her looking like she looked and being who she was, if that makes sense. It was odd to be back at "work."

I look forward to going through all the old writing that's boxed up and bringing it back to life, bit by bit. page by page. I have the time and such to rebuild a lot of it.  I'm one of those people who wrote for a long time without really knowing what I wanted to do with it. In 1988, I would've told you I wanted to be a full-time "horror poet." By 1992 it was a poststructuralist theorist with pronounced Marxist tendencies. Somehow that led to reading way too much theory for years. I still dashed off poems withwannabe  Beatness and I read in more poetry open mics than anyone ever should and, to oversimplify, I partied really hard and tried to write down what was smashing through my head. Once things levelled out, I read Exquisite Corpse. It's no lynchpin to some big thing with me, in the sense that for me it was a spellbinding book at exactly the right moment, but I am willing to concede that I might have left the store with something else that would've had a similar result. Whatever happened, it was enough (on a plane ride back from LA where a job that had looked right wasn't) to rekindle the teenage love of Barker and King into something I wanted to actually act on.
Poppy Z. Brite had everything that I needed to see then together in one place. It, again, would be false if I claimed that no other book could've worked. It's not true. I hadn't read fiction other than trashy bestsellers (Patricia Cornwell, for example) for a long time and I, if pressed, was probably embarassed that even I read those. But I went to Dangerous Visions. I think I just saw it and thought "bookstore," in the same way I went to one of the Psychic Eye bookstores several times in that same week, but I spent over an hour and bought Exquisite Corpse. I really don't think I knew what kind of store it was and didn't connect the title of the anthology to the name of the store until I was inside. I liked that Corpse looked creepy, transgressive and intelligent and the idea that it was by a "woman" (yes, these things are fluid, it was an idea that was in my head at the time even though I try to escape the tyranny of gender because gender is most certainly not binary) and it stood out in the store because it was a trade paperback and not that many of the other books were. The person behind the counter told me about meeting Poppy, maybe at a signing at that store. I was sold.

 However many other books could've shown me how much things had changed while I was "away," Mr. Brite's book was most certainly one of them. It blew my mind. I wanted to wash my hands when I closed it and I felt guilty chatting with the little kid who was sitting next to me on the plane, flying by himself. I was afraid he'd look over my shoulder and not understand how great that book was for me.

The difference between writing fiction and the grunt work is still something I'm learning to calibrate. To sit down and write an attempt at a good story takes less time than ever before, but, compared to the kind of writing that's just throwing words onto paper, it's trickier. So tomorrow I move into a new place and I hope to start unpacking and rebulding and it's kind of funny that it's a new year, since I tend to put some stock in that but 2009 seems lost in the riffle shuffle of all the other newness of the moment, if that makes sense. So I'm trying to be glad that I got 2,250 words I can use for this story. It's playing it safe at the moment and that bothers me. Writing fiction for publication is about making a product. You can't do a page of Xs in all caps or change the characters names twice a page and have it hold together the way it needs to for what I'm trying to write but I hope I'm not erring in the other direction. I guess the right way to put it is that I've always liked a style of story that I don't write and this one is going to be an attempt at that. The good news is that I banged out a story on New Year's Eve (thanks to encouragement from [livejournal.com profile] nihilistic_kid) quickly enough that I'm starting to learn how to do what I want faster. Leaving stories on scraps of paper jammed into file folders for years wasn't working for me either. It helps to be asked. Having deadlines coupled with time to actually write seems to be teaching me things I really needed to learn.
I've never written something that feels a little humdrum to me. It's just a draft and I'm tired and overthinking. I know I'm laying a foundation for a slow-build and I know I'm trying to rep where I've chosen to set the story, but I'm not used to feeling tight control, that's all. I'm glad I have a framework that I can use to get it wherever it needs to go. Traditional isn't always bad. I love it when other people do it. I just get caught up in some petty internal thing where I want to blow minds and be subversive. My old definition of avant garde is more like a form of intentional self-marginalization. I've written plenty of things that made a point of being unreadable. As a writer, I'd love it if I could change my perspective and see the craft like actors who want to show off their range. I don't read just one way and I shouldn't be silly enough to think that I should only write one way.

So wish me luck. The next few days are going to be pretty madcap. Digging through memories while packing and unpacking and trying to make something a little different than what I normally try to make. I feel like the end of Doogie Howser, M.D. where he would shovel stupid platitudes. That's not me either, but I've taken on happiness. I can't express happiness at the drop of a hat. It's not my thing. I'm not glum as much as I'm unimpressed.  [livejournal.com profile] goblin_exchange  blogged a Ligotti quote today and I was going to swoop in and try to explain it from the Ligottian perspective. I'm not a Ligotti expert on the level of some but I have made a point of understanding where he's coming from and reading his stories and interviews over and over and now I'm making less sense and jamming another concept into this ramble. I won't delete the half-finished bit, but I'm tired and it's time to stop.

I remember what I was going to say. I think stepping into the blade or claiming that your characters talk to you are stupid. They're silly ideas that don't hold water. With this particular story, if I don't nail it, if I'm not careful, I'm stabbing people in the back who I care about. It's hard for me to tell a story about other people who horrible things have happened to who really matter in a way that cockamamie slippy slidey stuff isn't. I can screw around with words all day, but it's harder for me to take other people's truths and turn them into something that shows the darkness they've ha to endure without selling them out. I feel that part of being a writer is exposing secrets on the page. I'm the first person to say that hiding from sex or death or violence does nothing. Repression and prohibition are useless to me, but airing dirty laundry is something I usually do in ways that are untraceable and that's not quite going to work in this case.

Happiness: I'm happy that I don't blog about writing or my life very often.


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