Thursday, March 27, 2008

Going East

This was supposed to be posted on the train, but I lost wi-fi before it sent...

I'm pirating internet at a train stop somewhere in Colorado.

Riding a train long distances is kind of weird. I watched the sun go down behind Los Angeles last night, and slept in the Lounge Car because my awesome seatmate smelled like he hadn't showered in a week, and when I went back to lie down he was taking up both seats. It was awesome. Hoping I can actually get a chair tonight.

I pass out in an arid desert area and wake up in the mountains. Pass out again and I wake up staring over flat plains stretching as far as the eye can see. Free roaming cattle, gazelle. I saw an Ostrich farm.

This country is so big, and so varied. There was a line in Neil Gaiman's American Gods about how San Francisco is no more in the same country as New York as Berlin is in the same country as Paris. Sure we share the same currency, the same flag, but the land and the people and the culture is so different.

Anywhoo we disembark soon. I'll be in Chicago tomorrow afternoon and in Haslett tomorrow night. And I'm back to Freaks and Geeks and Writing.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Goings-On

Lots to catch up on.

I've been busy (and not writing (go figure)) for the past week enjoying my time out here in LA. Here's the skinny:

Saturday we celebrated the Catholic St. Patty's day. Much drinking followed by much passing out followed by a strained attempt at remembering the blacker parts of the evening. We played lots of darts.

Sunday was recovery from St. Patty's day. Mostly it was a day of reading and generally keeping to myself, and that day I finished the Road. It was very good.

Monday was spent also lounging around. That night Granite and Red came over to the gent's house and attempted to throw another St. Patty's day and it fell flat.

Tuesday I found myself some trails, and I climbed a small mountain. The smog was clear that day so much so that I could see snow on the mountains and downtown LA from as far away as Buena Park.

Wednesday I went out again on another hike to find a comic shop, and it was an utter failure. I walked about 10 miles that day, got a terrible farmers tan and many blisters on my feet. And I rediscovered the reason I don't wear sandals on long treks.

Thursday was spent more or less off my feet. I discovered that I made the cut for the University of Michigan School of Information for their Master's in Library and Information Science. That evening Paul threw a bachelors party for his friend Robert. There was lots of meat, and lots of beer. It was very much a success.

Friday I spent with some friends from Columbia College who are out here for their semester in LA. We went down to Long Beach (which was kind of touristy and on the whole not worth the drive). That night they dropped me at Ben and Kate's and then we hauled ass north to San Francisco for Easter weekend with Kate's aunt, Annie.

Annie is a character. Ben and Kate warned me about how she likes to grill people with questions and her very pressing personality. She liked me, and kept telling Kate how cute I was and if only she were a few years younger.

Saturday I climbed a mountain in the morning and saw a giant cross and the entire Bay area. Then we went down to Haight street and had some pints at some bars and went to Amoeba records and then we went into San Fran proper and wandered around aimlessly there. Then that night we went back to Annie's. Kate went to pick up her sister from the airport. Ben and I read, and watched Dazed and Confused.

Sunday we drove to pick up Kate's sisters from Stanford and then went to Muir Park and saw really big trees (we also drove over the Golden Gate Bridge (it really is orange)). Then we came back and had dinner with her family, packed up, dropped her sisters back at Stanford and then hauled ass back to Los Angeles.

Today I rode with Kate to where she works in Culver city. Now I'm sitting in a Starbucks updating my blog, discovering the location of a comic shop, figuring out how the bus goes to Santa Monica, and listening to my iPod. I'm debating about writing, but I'll probably end up walking and taking pictures all tourist like, especially considering that I am about to have two whole days sitting on a train back to Chicago and then to East Lansing.

And here we are. I'll get around to posting pictures when I get where I have a cable. I'll also toss down impressions on San Francisco soon.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Westward Expansion

I'm in Los Angeles!

I flew out yesterday evening and got in with enough time to grab some sushi and watch Lost.

The plane was packed. I ended up sitting next to a mom and her two kids (12 weeks and 1.5 years) and their great grandma. Subsequently I got very little reading done again. Large portions of the flight were with the 1.5 year old girl sitting in my lap looking out the window. It was cute but a little frustrating.

On the descent my ears didn't pop properly, so for most of yesterday I was deaf out of my right ear. And it aggravated my sinus cold, so now I'm chugging water trying to get healthy as quickly as possible to enjoy the weather.

And enjoyable weather it is. It's 10am right now and 62 degrees! I'm in sandals and shorts!

I started chapter 5 of the Rider's story. Maybe finish that in a day or two. I've got a really strong idea where he's going for a few chapters now.

I also think I've come to grips with my process a little bit. When digging through my flash drive I found a plethora of unfinished novels, novellas, short stories, snippets of scenes. And what I do is riff on them, and then let them cool. It gets a ton of writing done right away. But leaves me with a lot of half-finished projects. And then I go back and continue chipping away. Maybe what'll happen is eventually I'll just start getting lots of things done at once. Have like three novels finished in a sitting...

Anywhoo, it's nice, and though I'm sick I want to go for a run! Pictures and adventures to come soon

Monday, March 10, 2008

Swallowed In The Sea


I spent today pouring over the Rider's novel. Reformatted the chapters. Did some editing. And when I reached the bottom I realized I was a lot less stuck than I thought. Maybe that's what "letting it get cold" means.

So I guess after working on Jack for as long as I did, I'm back to the Rider.

I guess I should've seen that coming.

A Balancing Act

I've set Jack down for a few days.

And, in response to hearing the calling of the Rider's demon motor, I've started reading and working a second draft of the rider's unfinished novel.

This got me exploring my flash drive for other unfinished stories, and I've realized that I have a ton of novels teetering on the brink of 100 pages or so. As such, while working on the Jack novel over Spring Break, I've decided to bust these half dozen novels out and start reworking them, rereading them, and generally trying to carry one or two to conclusion.

More on that later.

3 Days Down

I leave for California on Thursday!

I'm going to stay with my friends out there for 2 weeks, getting writing done, going for runs, and recharging for the end of my semester.

Kate, one of the people I stay with called me last night. I'm going to be out there over Easter weekend, and she was calling to invite me to come with her and her husband, Ben (another friend from high school), and her two sisters to drive up to San Francisco (a place I've never been) to spend Easter Weekend with her aunt. And she was all apprehensive about it, unsure whether it would be something I'd be interested in. Of course you can guess my response. A resounding Hell Yes! So now among other things I'm going to get to drive up the coast and see San Francisco! I'll make sure to take lots of pictures.

Thursday can't come fast enough

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Will You Heed It?

The rider is calling to me once again. His demon motorcycle across the flat plains of Megiddo or is it a torched Elysian? I don't know...

I'm hearing his story once again. And the story that comes after, and every story I write feeds into this story. This grand story.

I believe every writer has one truly great story to tell, and I hope that this one is mine. It feels huge, and right now I feel sorely inadequate to write it. So instead I jot in notebooks and I dream of one day being able to pen the epic that I dream about every day.

The powers that be
let be let be

Friday, March 07, 2008

Getting All Out Of Order

Had an idea for an epilogue for the Jack tale hit me while I'm in the shower.

It feels kinda like that frustrating clip they show either at the end of the movie or after the credits of a mediocre horror film, or a suspense/thriller that always always always leaves it open for a sequel (think the extra egg bursting open at the end of the American remake of Godzilla).

Throughout the Jack stories there are references (with no explanation) to the white man with the three fingers held over his eye. He's just this enigmatic dream character who helps Jack out from time to time, but never gets named, never gets serious up front attention.

So the book ends (however it may) with Jack being rich with the treasure of America and starting his own company with money from the gold, but there's a sad twist (his mom dies before he can help her).

Then we have this coda. It's later in life, Jack is now head of this multinational corporation, The Hawkins' Group (Hawkins is Jack's name). The scene is a side room off of a court room. Jack and his group of lawyers, led by an older gentleman named Paul (reference to Jason from my story "Ballad of the Lonely Argonaut") and Jack's brother's Tom and Will are gathered around a table discussing their case (against a Bucklin Incorporated (the former Bucklin Packaging from "Ballad of the Lonely Argonaut")). In the midst of a heated debate the door swings open and in comes a man in a finely pressed suit (reminiscent of the opening of the novel) He carries a brown briefcase (see previous parenthetical). He comes in and the room goes silent. He says something (unsure yet what) and goes to shake Jack's hand. As he does his sleeve comes up and there tattooed on the inside of his wrist is the eye with three white scars coming across it. Jack goes pale. And there is something about it being "time to pay the piper."

This sets Jack up for how he integrates into the rest of the universe.

I like it.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

When It's Good, It's GOOD

Chapter 4 is done!

It's absolute shit. But I know where I want it to go, and sometimes just the catharsis of getting it down on paper is enough.

I'm getting a slow start into chapter 5. I'm doing a lot of figuring out who Mother is. Roger Gans, detective for the FBI. I don't know a whole lot about him, just that he's a skeptic and I'm going to be inhabiting his head. Sounds good. He could be fun, and his introduction is a great and jarring switch from Jack running off into the woods. We'll see where that goes.

Like I said: Chapter 4 is shit shit shit. I don't like what Jack's found, it's maybe a little too obvious. I mean it needs to be obvious (the map and key) enough to get the ball rolling, but my selection of objects may be a little too obvious. The action really started picking up, and as he is cleaning out the cabin of the Giant of useful supplies I really liked the movement and pacing in that. I also need to get out how the giant seems to fluctuate in size, and swell bigger with anger, so that when Jack opens the door and steps outside BAM! he is shocked to look up and up and up and into the eyes of Cormoran, mighty Cormoran. And then I've got to get Silvanus, the green man out there a little sooner.

Anywhoo that is all inside shit that probably won't mean much of anything to anyone.

I've got a stack of American Folklore books I'm going to read and commit to memory over spring break, because I feel like a greater base knowledge of American Folklore will do nothing but inform the story to details it should be noticing and will hopefully get on the page when I make the transfer over from a finished long-hand copy to a typed copy.

Those books include:

Shingling the Fog and Other Plains Lies by Roger Welsch
Donegal Fairy Stories by Seumas MacManus
A Treasury of American Folklore by Terri Hardin
Grandfather Tales by Richard Chase

and anything else along the way that I discover as I'm trying not to spend money on books

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

King Hellry

Who would think that procrastination would be so hard and exhausting?

Jack keeps getting pushed aside to make way for the homework that I'm not doing. I'm only 9 days away from Los Angeles again, and I'm hoping to double or even triple my page count in the three wees worth of laziness I'm allowing myself. I've got a pretty good idea of the structure, now it's just a matter of making the time to implement the insanity.

My friend, Lane, sent me a copy of his novel, King Hellry, to read over and edit for him. He's finished the first draft and maybe a couple of light read-throughs and the thing just died on him. It makes me jealous to see that he actually has a novel done. And it makes me want to do work, so that I can have something to toss his way in return. His writing style is concise, direct, and doesn't wallow in trying to give you too much description. A bathroom is a bathroom. You know that. You know what a bathroom looks like. You fill in the rest of th blanks, and redefine your sight as he lets more and more details slip out slowly like a leaky faucet. I like that. It makes my Jack novel seem just ridiculous and weighted in its desire for you to know how everything is set up. It just feels slow in comparison.

I'm about 40 pages into his novel. It's about 260 pages. I'm hoping to finish it by Friday.

I'm nearing the end of chapter 4 and I'm hoping to finish chapter 5 by Friday. Part of me thinks that's a lie, considering how swamped I am, or am pretending to be, or am letting myself become (it's all a little fuzzy when I try and figure out where the system is breaking down).

Monday, March 03, 2008

Technology hates me.

I have to send in critique pieces for my Fiction Seminar class, and this is the second one I've sent to be critiqued, and the second time I've had an issue making sure everyone in the class (especially the teacher) gets it. Is it procrastination manifesting itself in some divine payback?

I skipped ahead in the scene I was working on in my novel because it's been giving me more trouble than I thought it would. I changed some things (Jack is now in the house of Cormoran, the first giant he kills, instead of Al Keeder (the green man)). It kind of feels like cheating, though, going ahead and saying "meh, I'll get back to it later." But maybe this is something i need to do in order to get everything onto the page that I want before I become exhausted with the idea.

I'm hoping to wrap chapter 4 up in the next day or two, and get started on chapter 5, which introduces Detective Roger Gans, or Mother as his colleagues refer to him.

I also took a break from Facebook in order to ensure that I get serious amounts of writing done. I want to tear through this novel so that I can actually have something substantial completed.