Saturday, January 19, 2013

Ignoring, the cold

The one productive thing that I have been working on is interview questions for a promotional piece to coincide with the book release. There were some fifty questions, and the host was nice enough to let me choose which I wanted to answer. It occurred to me sometime later that the questions one chose to answer could tell a story, or that their selection would at least be somewhat telling. One question that didn’t make the cut because I didn’t have the answer was “what is your favorite quote?” I seem to have week to week favorites, but there is no grand, all-time thought. But if you’re curious, this week, this month, it’s “There is nothing that won’t shine if you  polish it enough.” I like it because it’s structure is eccentric. It was translated from Japanese.

And in regards to that, things have been quite dull with the writing recently. That’s changing this weekend. The next chapter will be written. Thankfully, I’m getting more and more excited about it as I forcefully commit myself to it. A schedule might be in order if I'm to make my various, personal deadlines. Someone recently asked me about what projects I was working on. Aside from the Spring goal I’ve given myself, there’s also the short story that also has no apparent deadline. I think I’m one of those people that works better if I know there’s some sort of cut off. And there are places to submit to, and they do have those sorts of target dates. Admittedly, it is somewhat difficult to ignore all the failures and believe, whole-heartedly, that this time will be different. Usually, it’s the wanting/needing to write that carries me through, not the thought of “maybe it’ll be different this time.” Unfortunately, I think part of the problem is that I’ve had a few different creative outlets that had eased the pressure on that particular valve. A few weekends have passed by and I realized that I should have written only in retrospect.

Another line of questions I decided not to answer had me dredging up the image of my mentor from college. He told me once that he believed my “genre fiction” writing was a phase and that eventually I would come around to the contemporary wagon. A very young part of me, grown old, rebels at the notion, not because it’s wrong, but because it’s a destiny someone else saddled me with. An older part of me, grown wise, has to admit that he may have been right, been right before I even realized what he was talking about. At work this week, I worked on a colleague's dissertation, reading it for edits and sense, and a different direction grew inside me, an urge that I had shelved some years ago and made promises to come back to. Some day. I hated that that day was last week, and that this new idea was mocking all my other ones. I don’t have children, so I don’t know what it feels like when they fight, but this seems to me the closest thing so far. It’s very frustrating because I’ve written about the kinds of things that would make all this easier. So the solutions are real to me, just inaccessible. I fear it may be years yet before I unravel myself from this knot of my unconscious design.

So, this is what a deep breath sounds like. Everything is tangled, and it needs to be straightened. Things need to be put back into order. All I can really do is pick a strand and gently pull, and exercise some poise and some patience. As if this was all a dangerous device, but I was the kind of person with winter rain water running through my veins.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Future as meta-for

An old friend from high school asked for my help. He was assembling a basketball goal for his son, and was stumped in the process. When I thought about what was being asked of me, it made me ponder on high school again, and all those holiday seasons before that. I had spent most of my time indoors, going outside only to play with toys. Not build them. But the fresh experiences did not stop there. I never realized it consciously, but whenever I'm confronted with a pile of parts, and the picture of a finished product, I constantly examine how each bit forms into that whole. Basketball goals are made from an unexpected number of mysterious shaped pieces.

While working, and sometimes cursing, I thought about my next story. It's about time to start taking down notes lest I lose ideas I've worked on. I claim to be a character-driven writer, yet this story, just like the last one, seems to have artifice as a main part also. It'll be another future telling, as many of my shorter things are, and it's a task I try to take very seriously. No one can know the future, after all, the strange, mercurial continuum that it is. I read somewhere once that science's job is to make true what art aspires. Or maybe I just made that up (been doing that a lot lately, and it terrifies me). Technological advancement isn't linear though; it's exponential. Fifty years ago, authors wrote about the 80s and 90s. Movies made during those decades made claims about how things would be by now. The gap is collapsing. I guess what I'm trying to do is widen it some.

The novel is coming along in stops and starts as well. Like a car with a bad starter, it was frozen out during the editing frenzy that occurred in late fall. Since trying to crank it back up, I've had to pop the hood and peer and poke at things. Recharge the battery. Put more air in the tires. It isn't beyond salvageable. It isn't back up to its racing form just yet either.

I can't recall (but the internet can; another shudder) what I was up to this time last year. If I had to guess, I was probably trying to avoid making grandiose claims about what 2012 would bring, and how 2011 had been. I'd like to think I was sticking to my years long model of getting better, wiser, stronger at every page turn of the calendar. I took some steps backward, but I honestly believe my net displacement is beyond where I started. Much like my friend back in high school, I'm not who I was. I've visited him again since that frosty day of labor outdoors, and our creation is still standing. A ten foot tall declaration.