2005/10/01

Tidbits

Writing sucks. Both non- and fiction. (Maybe creative nonfiction is the worst?) I mean, it's difficult to get the right words... thoughts are amorphous, ephemeral, yet sometimes dazzlingly sharp in what we nowadays call resolution. The story has taken shape, the outline, the writing is 60-70% of a draft (so far, 5000 unprecious words). Enless agonizing. What about the motivations--why why why? Rearranging sections. I enjoy a nonlinear story arc, or to intercut sections of different times within a linear story arc. The technical challenge is much easier to resolve, however, than the language. Each word like the only four-leaf in a clover patch, hidden amongst familiarities. To make a song in the reader's mind. Find the voices.

I'm not there yet. Here, however, is a bit of the rough cut:
[snippet 1: setup=the story follows the narrator from the present to his childhood via a series of relationships with the opposite sex; the main action of the most recent of these liasons takes place during a cross-country vacation.]
Rejected? Titles: Cascade; Mnemonie; The Foodening [kidding!]; The Life of Young Circe; Your Hand in Mine; Hotwater Gift

And then I was throwing myself against the wall of the hall and stumbling into the living room onto the couch, trashed. This was after sitting quietly at the kitchen table, drinking poorer and poorer Rob Roys and staring at the papers spread before me. It’s a true-life story, there is the magazine in front of me, another underneath, pretentious drivel. Photocopies—ink blacks my fingertips—from the latest news in the tiny specialized discipline I inhabit but don’t like to talk about. That would take too long. I’m too enthusiastic and I can already see her eyes focusing ten thousand miles behind my head, maybe on the [scratch first choice, European landmark?].

The floating underwater music I’d put on earlier had run its course and sunset, long over, hung only in my brain over the scintillating and erratic patterns of neuron communications I somehow experience. The experience of a heavy drunk, left hand numbed by the icy tumbler, with the whirl of words before me but unattended. I was wondering whether if I lifted the hem of my shirt I would find dripping blood, like when years ago a knife slashed me (loose rib flesh) in those wild children’s days.

Wait: this is later. I’m not making sense. Earlier, before it was more.
[snippet 2: setup=the narrator just rehearsed, in mind, meeting the woman breaking up with whom caused the intoxication of the last passage; he remembers a PG-rated meeting of the minds in an empty room during a party]
Or so I remember it. She liked to tell the story differently, and we were wild animals copulating with grunts and whimpers on that dusty desk, dripping out life onto that abandoned regretful corner of Mrs. ________’s life. Rutting like feral cats mewling our frustrations into bruised hipflesh, roughed elbows and bitemarks, stinging sweat in the eyes, hair sticking to our lips, finally escaping from the monstrous normalcy imposed by each slightly unsquared croner and not-quite-carelessly placed knick-knack by blotting out the acquaintances mechanically faking entertainment below and seeking only pure mindless attainment of life’s goal. I think you get the gist, anyhow.

“Where are we?” she asked, eyes unsure whether to open. My throat squeezed. “Still North Dakota?”

“Yes,” I croaked, and sipped some lukewarm lemonade. “Tomorrow, too, probably.” The we were silent for a while.

“Do you want to stop?” Lids still fastened.

“I’m okay,” I said.

“When are we going to stop?”

“Did you want to stop—is that why you’re asking?

“No, I just thought you might be tired of driving.”

“No, I’m fine. You hungry?” I asked because I could feel the useless twisting begin in my stomach. She made a noncommittal sound.

We were howling through a public sanctuary, dark humps of land black on indigo beyond the headlight flare. A flicker of movement caught my eye as a car ahead tapped brakes and swished side-to-side, then back true to the lane lines. What, I wondered, and then a Doe with two yearlings sped 85mph along the blacktop right at us. My head was frozen, eyes measuring the gaps between twelve legs, neck arched and cocked, straining. I twitched the wheel slightly hoping to only kill one of them, bringing demise to only one pair of black empty eyes. Then we slipped in the gap between the yearlings, our draft fluttering the ears of one and the tail of another. I saw the tiny movement of their passage into gully on the southerly side of the road through the rearview, eyes wild on their silhouettes in the last of the fading sunlight, my shoulders tightened to support the marbled stillness of my skull.

This is what I’ve given myself to, I thought, this machine we’ve built. I know what it can do and yet I ignore it for an hour, and another hour. I’m steering death, and only luck keeps me from donning the black mask. My mind was sour, sure. This road we've chosen contains the machine. A driver is a rider on the lion’s back. Probably mutterings were dribbling out my gob.

“You sure you’re alright to drive?” She asked, finally looking over at me with concern lightly touching her mouth. Concern for her safety. The previous week had seen me behind the wheel more than otherwise.

“As well as ever,” I replied, “As well as can be. Trust me.”

“I have to shit.” She was, by this time, far beyond any sort of modesty, with me.
[end snippetage]

Actually, another part of the story revolves around some pretty base "humor." I can't tell what of this is useful, what is just the effluvia in which the story escapes the deep plumbing of the brain.

I wonder how I can be sure to have the intended effect. I'm trying to say something, sure. But my readers are people who know me, and they will read into the work things from my life... Although some of the events in the story are based directly on things that have happened to me or I have witnessed, still the whole is an utter fabrication. The truth lies in the weave. Yeah, yeah, rewrite, edit, rewrite again, etc. and so on, sure, sure.

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