Monthly Archives: February 2012

the PREantePENultimate POST

From another r/writing thread

Some superfluous advice for the Beginning Writer:

Make sure you read as much as you can. Branch out of fiction, find a vein of philosophy you enjoy—that will help to build your thinking muscles for later on, when you’re ready or want to dip into deeper concepts.

(A semi-related anecdote: when I was a teenager I wanted to be a poet. I understood that poetry needs to be wed to music to garner the praise I was after, at least in the culture I’m from. And seeing as how I was shy and more often than not disappointed by the lyrics of the bands I liked, I decided to focus on writing stories instead. Years later, burnt out on stories, I picked up a guitar, and found that songs fell out of me, like rabbit poop scattering across the carpet. It puzzled me how much a struggle it was for the musicians I knew to finish a song—when, as a writer, all I needed was a good chord progression, a change or two, and the lyrics came on their own. I knew how to listen for them. Which goes to say: other pursuits will feed into your writing, and give you an advantage, or, rather, increase the value of your product. (As an aside, I can’t record music for sh*t, but I love writing songs, they alleviate my poetry compulsion))

Also, write for people and write for yourself. Get good at action sequences and descriptions, but experiment with language when you can. I believe that Writer’s Block is not so much an absolute block as an indication that your imagination wants to take things in a different direction. As the proverb goes: “There is always fruit in the forest.” So: be playful. Remember that the entirety of writing is a human construct, and there are no absolutes, only varying degrees of clarity, immediacy, and sympathy between writer and reader.

the ANTEpenULTIMATE post

I’m blowing a good idea here, for the beginning of this blog. But that’s okay, because it is a blog and it’s actually the end.

This good idea is not worth mentioning, so I will go on with my third blog post.

This blog post will not be self-referencing.

That is, beyond this point:


Quoting myself from a post Why is having a writer as your central character usually discouraged?

One difficulty with choosing a writer as a protagonist is that, sooner or later, his writing is going to make its way into your book. And his writing will be different from the writing about him — in other words, you will have another story on your plate, to deal with.

And the more attention you give the story within the story, the more complexities will spring up — this is the nature of story — which will require resolution (of plot) and polish (of prose) — and this ends up elongating the finishing process (which is endless to begin with, despite its lip-service to finality).

But the potential rewards of having an author as a subject is the ability to elaborate the world and themes of the novel in radical ways—by means “perpendicular” to the flow and tone of the “outer” story. If positioned right, your creative protagonist can become an infinite doorway of narratives for your novel to pass through, picking up and setting down locations, times and particulars—and as long as the characters translate through these transitions of narrative, the reader will be able to follow — for however long the story is engaging.

But yes, the far greater pitfall is that the subject will be a creatively stunted nobody, or writing teacher who bangs a student, or any other cliche that is more a practice novel than a proper contribution to the stack of informative furniture that lines our shelves and builds up like tartar on ebook hdds.

As ever, good fiction relies on good realization.


Another note about blogging: You read it stinking backwards!

Now, I’ve written a number of novels, and I have always written the ending last, then I go back and make sure everything lines up to it (or intentionally does not — because I believe in trickery).

And the beginning — I go over and over and over those first two pages — even to the point of slaughtering them. No other page gets the same amount of focus as the first — though, admittedly, I’m changing the direction of my writing — of my writing process — so that will probably change in the future. But regardless, that first page will be given the most cumulative attention of any other part of the book. I’d say 90% of people who read anything of a book, read the first page. (that over generous %10 is taking into account people who, like me, maybe scan a paragraph or two from some random part of the book, in passing — which percentage might remain stable, through the electronification of books, due to search results). But blogs —

Paragraph break because this is a blog and every successive sentence within a paragraph dramatically increases skipping.

— but who reads the first post in a blog? Who reads blogs to begin with? This is the internet, why read when there’s millions of hours of video! and pictures! and videos of pictures! and music!

I’ll tell you what I read on the internet: I read comments. I love comments. Some day I will write a novel and give the freaking things comments. Actually, I’ve done this. I do this to every novel I’ve written.

This is probably one of the things that has kept me from publishing. And it is one of the things I will try to be changing about my process.

Okay I got derailed by the comment thing (so commentary! should be a way we describe works of art that get off topic and spin into flamewars and other outlandish monkey battles of feces and kitten pictures, ad hominem arguments and I am getting distracted again. This is the internet’s fault. THIS IS THE FAULT OF BLOGGING—)

Blogging is so temporal. It’s relationship to time is almost backwards to a book’s. Not just litterally, but in effect, too. I did not plan ahead when I named the first blog post (see below). Instead, I acted. And now I would have to go back and edit its title to come in line with this post, and the next two, too! But that would be disingenuous.

And the one thing the net is not — is disingenuous.

Obligatory First Blog Post About Blog Posts

I have had blogs before.

I quit them after two posts.

Why I do this is because I have a very intense need to delete things that aren’t “up to muster”, and the nature of blogs — of the internet, in general — is to be conversational in tone.

I like my conversations buttressed by gobs of wordplay and philo-poetic musings.

But the internet just wants to read! The internet does not want to cringe into the ambiguous and unequivocal! That causes eyestrain! The internet wants chatter!

Okay, internet, I will give you my chatter.

And I will do what I can not to trim this blog down to a sorry shrub of aphorisms.