Monday, September 27, 2010

the temple is in shambles

Simple things. It comes down to simple things. Simple things that you don't realize you have lost. I actually had a day off today.

An actual day off, a day to write. A day free from my social, familial, and economic responsibilities. Finn was off cavorting with his Grammy. I was off from work. And I was actually able to start writing the novel. Then I went to the library to clear my head, came back and scrapped the whole thing and was able to actually get the first pages written in a tone that did not wholly upset me. It's not where I want it yet, but it's closer. And then I was able to do research reading, lounging in the sun, listening to my iPod out by the pool. I know have some inkling why some people like it down here. Not my cup of tea, really, but at least I can understand it now.

[dinner interlude, music provided by JoyCan]

My life is in something of a disarray. Today was good. It was a help, a reminder that things could be better. Than not everything is stress and running around on other people's schedules and supervising my infant and the ones I work with. Sometimes it's a book, a pool chair, and dozing in the sun. I needed to be reminded.

Now the goal is to write more than two pages a week (so that I can finish a draft in a couple months rather than a couple years). We'll see.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

"Talk to me, Goose"

"In order to find his equal, an Irishman is forced to talk to God." - Stephen, Braveheart

I end up talking to myself.

I watched the premier of Bones last night. Simple fun. An interesting and easy show. And since its season 6, I guess we are fairly invested in the characters and their stories if not the run of the mill forensics of the individual episode. Anyway, it raised the issue of lynchpin personalities, of keystone members of groups, the one that keeps the group together, keeps the dynamic strong.

Everyone, I suppose, would like to imagine themselves as the keystone. I know I do. But I can't say that it is true. Hard thing to figure out, really. Especially since all the groups I have been a part of seemed to fall apart when everyone moved away. Can't really pin that on one person. Which isn't really the point. Burying the lead, I suppose. The point is, I miss my friends.

I miss y'all individually, and I miss having friends around to talk to and hang out with in the general sense as well. Parenthood (especially when the first and only in your peer group) is an extremely isolating activity. Add in moving to the bowels of suburban "paradise" while everyone else stayed in New York or lit out for California and her sunnier brand of faded dreams. I don't really know people here. Not socially. Not intellectually.

It troubles me that the only two things I find myself talking about these days are how things are going with the kid and how things are going at work. Finn's mostly good. Work, not as much. But I remember when I would argue for hours with Todd at Grassroots about minor semantic points. And I miss that. I miss the days when Derrida had relevance to my discourse. At least I still talk about writing with Gina. But I get so little time to work on my writing (and I often procrastinate with what little time I do have "waiting for inspiration") that talking about it is often as far as anything goes. I have notes for a novel. And a steampunk prequel. But I get discouraged thinking about it. Thinking about my lack of progress in general. When the whole of my regular writing process is short shorts and poems tossed off on the iPod during my lunch breaks. It gets hard. It's basically (so far as blame can be assigned) my fault for being lazy. For wanting to sleep. Rowling managed.

(an interlude to talk to Gina, about life et al.)

a poem:
a glass.
+ ice. + rum. + lemon juice.
a glass with melted ice, residue.
+ bourbon. the ice melts.

there was beer before. and Chinese.
I don't know. Maybe I'm not putting enough out there, not giving enough of myself. Not investing in the blog, in the emotion of venting to a blank screen (Springsteen in the background), of telling strangers and future generations about the minutia of my life, such as it is.

I'm working on it. Finished up Heart-Shaped Box the other night. A surprisingly good book. Or, perhaps that is the wrong word. I was surprised that I so enjoyed a book marketed as horror. I tend to read horror the way I read techno-thrillers and spy novels. As plot driven escapism. Heart-Shaped Box wasn't that at all. Mostly I found myself thinking what it was like for Stephen King to feel simultaneously proud and jealous.

A question about horror writing: I have never (in my adult life anyway) been given nightmares from a book/movie, etc. Is that odd? Do people actually get nightmares from books they read? Are they kept up? I am willing to accept that the way I process information (rather abstractly) often precludes me from what may be a normal response to horror. I have no idea whether that might actually be the case. I suppose then, what I look for in horror writing (film, et al) is more a sense of the unheimlich. The uncanny nature of the story rather than any implied or expected sense of fear. Or is that meant to cause nightmares, too?

Started reading Oliver Twist. I've never really read much Dickens (a bit of Great Expectations in 9th grade but that's about it). Kind of a pompous buffoon, really. But it's research for the the prequel. Makes me feel productive and learned at the same time. (And the way we feel about our lives is far more important than anything we actually do with them, terrible as that sounds).

I keep picking up the empty glass on my left rather than the full one on my right. Odd. So it goes. Gina, and life, is distracting. I digress. We talk. I wander off. I go into the kitchen to get something, but I didn't want or need anything there. ...

Soon come. Change. Soon come.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Finish Strong. They won't remember your failures.

Nothing like a walk through the morning rain to wash away your sins.

"When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide."
- John & Paul

The computer/TV setup has proven to be a bad idea. An incomplete one, at least. Since I am copying this down from my pocket notebook (from about 14 hours ago). Better being able to get the thoughts down somewhere than go through the rest of the day trying to remember that idea (good or otherwise) that I had earlier. Forgetting what might have been a good idea always bothers me to no end. Especially since the idea, if I could remember it, would likely be of little consequence but the not being able to remember bestows a grand aura of lost excellence (or the possibility thereof). Though the going back and writing the actual post later does allow me to edit out the boring bits, the parts about Finn's breakfast, and the scribbles in search of coherence. It was morning. I was (and still am) exhausted. Forcing productivity is going to get easier, right? Of course if I had the next new brand new next next fancy thing that would totally make me productive and not just a lazy procrastinator with a brand new toy that could make me more diligent if I were the sort of person to be diligent in the first place.

[that was about all I had from the morning.]

I live a, well I guess the best word for it is sheltered, life. Not exactly by choice. Time is such a rare commodity that I rarely feel justified in spending any time reading up on the news of the world. I need to be playing trucks with Finn. Or cooking dinner. Or cleaning up. Or writing. Or doing this or that for work. You get stretched thin. The first things to go are things like checking the updates on my reader feeds and reading the various news sources I find intriguing. And so I have been finding myself less and less in the know of late (if I had a job that came with a cube and computer this would almost certainly not apply at all but as it is I am perpetually out of the loop). It leaves me in a position of having to make this blog a lot more self-centered that I would really like. I mean, I am vain. Terribly so. And I love to hear myself talk. But not just about anything. Not without an audience that prompts me to my next ridiculous display. Not without a crowd that I can pretend finds me witty and irresistible. I want this blog to be about something in that grandiose bullshit kind of way that everyone this day and age wants to feel important about themselves, about something. I guess I am no different. Maybe a little more self-aware and shameless. But now I can't follow the news. I don't much bother with politics. I won't talk about work. And I don't want to be the guy that rambles on and on about how his kid is the greatest in the universe (he is, natch, but given his parents that was to be expected). What do I have left? A couple of TV shows that Gina and I still find time for and the books that I manage to read on lunch hours. The Fall seasons haven't really started yet (have they?). Burn Notice was good. The SyFy crossovers were done very well (if only they could be more than a one off blip to be retconned almost immediately). I very much liked The Magicians (despite the fact that I think the Narnia books are complete and utter shit). So much so that there were times that I wanted to book to end happier. Or sadder, really. I can go along with an author that happily-ever-afters an otherwise cynical tale because its what the audience always silently hopes for. And I always agree with a scorched earth method of "life is shit and this book is real, dammit" that refuses to concede to the happy ending crowds. I guess it's just the middle path that bothers me. I guess I would rather have sunshine and farts or dingy mud puddle pessimism instead of any of that in between hope never dies work that just unsettles me. Sorry for the thematic spoilers guys. Go out and read the book. It's good and a sequel is coming.

First Lord's Fury was a little disappointing (for Butcher's insatiable optimism and belief in the betterment of mankind) but still a worthy end to the Codex Alera series. Lord Sunday was also a bit of a let down (the pacing wasn't the best, the twists at the end were unique but too predictable. Though, as a critical theorist reading a children's book, I might be being a tad overcritical). But it too was a more than worthy end of a good series. Harry Dresden and the Abhorsen are still far and away better. Just how it is. Eating the Dinosaur is going strong so far. I don't know that I will be able to finish it before Thursday when it's due back at the library.

That seems like enough.

Monday, September 13, 2010

because sometimes good enough is all you've got

Been a while. What was it that I was saying about being easily distracted? Life just gets beyond you. And writing is hard.

I'm trying. And I am full of good excuses.

I thought, this morning while walking around the neighborhood hunting pups with the Binns, that I should write a memoir. A sort of memoir. A "what I can remember of my life without having to look anything up" memoir. A storytelling, then. Because my memory is often both better and worse than most. Remembering odd things like obscure numbers but forgetting names and events. A storytelling of my life based on my current circumstances and current disposition. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Now it seems like a lot of work that I don't have time for based on a payoff that may never come and a recollection that will almost certainly upset a great number of people and cause my mother to worry (needlessly) more than she already does. I mean, sure if it's a best seller like Eggers had it would be a great way to launch a career. More likely - nothing. And I find it hard enough to spare a few minutes for the blog. Let alone the novel. And now somehow I am also going to find time to pen facts?

C'est la.

At least I was able to storyboard my first chapter the other day. And am on my way towards finishing up the outline of my 3rd (4th-5th, the order is at yet indistinct) chapter. So there is that. But this is all based on scribbling down ideas while at work or out on walks while the kid get impatient with standing still. I like to call myself a writer (though there are far too many associations with the title these days, at least I no longer feel obliged to live up to the name). But I used to be a writer in the sense of "I'll write when I am inspired, you can't force genius." And now my options are write at the most uninspired times of day for myself (my "lunch" break or just getting off work too tired to do much of anything -- otherwise I am passed out or sleepily parenting). This is what I have been able to manage so far. Clearly not a good sign.

Gina said that it took her at least a good month to adjust to writing in the off hours that she had. She had a novel to finish and only those hours. It was a simple choice: write in the off hours (slowly building up steam) or don't and give up. I'm not ready to give up.


Work piles up. It gets up and grins at you. Say's "Lookie here, mother fucker, this is it. This is everything." It's hard to get past work. To say that work doesn't affect my family life would be absurd. It does. It affects my family life, my personal life, my life outside the job. It invades my days off and asks more of me than I am paid for. It does. It's a job. Within reason, I tend to answer.


Let me know how things are going with you, dear readers (the few of you that exist). Let me know how it is, out in that world that it doesn't seem like I still live in. Maybe we'll make something collaborative out of this silly old blog after all.
"Go back to sleep."
- A Perfect Circle, "Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums"

Cogitatio et Memoria
- family motto