Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Reading and writing and all that jazz

I need a new bookshelf desperately. My books are just about overflowing from my little bookshelf in my little bedroom. Literally. I have no room.

But I'll keep buying more books anyway. ;) There's still a few more at the moment that I've got an eye on. I'm thinking of maybe creating a list of the books I own and the books I've read and maybe talk a bit about them here. Well, the interesting ones, at least. A lot of them are classics or cult classics or written by authors who have written classics or cult classics.

The last book I finished was Less Than Zero, by Bret Easton Ellis. Which was absolutely brilliant. He had it published when he was 21. Fuck me, people like him make me so jealous. If I write a Less Than Zero by next year I'd be over the fucking moon.

Having said that, I felt that it resonated with me very much like Cormac McCarthy's The Road did. They're both minimalist novels without a difinitive plot and with a couple of holy-fucking-shit moments that really stuck in my mind alongside the rest of the hum-drum narratives. The key differences between the two stories are that one's first person and the other's third, and one's set in '80s LA and the other's in post-apocalyptic American wasteland. Both really gripping reads.

I'm currently reading my way through Neil Gaiman's epic novel, American Gods. I've got about 200 pages to go, and right from the get go, there's a sensation of bliss caused by his elegantly spun sentences. I don't know many authors who can just phrase sentences in such a beautiful and articulate way. It stands out, to the point that I've noticed the occasional sentence that isn't quite that brilliant and it makes me disappointed, where in your average novel the sentence would slip by unnoticed. The man is a syntactical genius.

Now, on to my writing, which is all over the place at the moment. Literally. I've got bits and pieces of poems and short stories all over my desk. I'm currently working on three poems for my experimental writing class, which, I must say, I'm having a lot of fun with. There are a few restrictions, but I feel like I'm starting to balance things out nicely now. 20 lines. First poem has to be a language based poem playing around with colours. I've got a kaleidoscope of overly wordy descriptions of surrealist imagery (the line lengths would only fit on the page landscape style), and I'm playing around a bit with alliteration, rhyme, disassociation and variation. The second poem has to be a referent poem. Based on a core idea or theme. Simple enough. I've got a suicide-poem written on a burger wrapper to play with the idea of consumerism. The third poem is open, although has to relate to the exercises in the first few chapters in our textbook. I've gone with a collage poem, where I've taken sentences from four of my favourite books at random and pieced them into a poem. I need to shorten this poem a bit, but I really love how it fits together and stands on its own, showing very little trace of the original source material.

That's been keeping me entertained, playing around with language and structure and technique. but I've also got a performance script (10 minutes) to write for three weeks' time. I've got a lot of work to do on this one, but I'm going to take the 10 minutes from a short story I wrote recently and pick a scene or two from that. I've started writing out the character list, and that's about it. But I've been doing the list from the whole short story, which, I'm sure all of them won't feature in the script.

I'll have to send away my short stories for the wet ink short story competition soon. I know I should edit through my pieces a bit before I send them but I haven't touched them in a while, and from the last times I went through them nothing really leapt out at me as being horrendously terrible.

Fast forward a few months to November and I'll be trying to write 50,000 words in a month again. Although this time I'm thinking instead of trying to slog it out on one work, I'll cheat and work on several major projects. Basically, there's three that are on my mind at the moment, which I'll probably start planning out quite soon, and one other thing I'd like to try out for that month, to see if it's a viable sustainable option for me. The first project is Utopia Ltd. My quasi-surrealist anarchistic novel that I left half-baked at the end of JulNoWriMo. I'm going to strip it back and try to have more of a logical progression to it. The second project is Perpetual Dreaming. A totally surrealist epistolary narrative about a man who starts having these vivid dreams within the wild and bizarre dream world of a child in a coma, of which he is unsure there is a genuine link to a real boy in the real world, or whether the boy is just a part of his imagination. And the third project is a verse novel. I've wanted to try this out since I read Dorothy Porter's The Monkey's Mask, and I think this would be a great opportunity. I think I'm going to try to adapt my short story, The Giant, into a verse novel (this is also the one I'm writing the script for).

And the one other thing I wanted to try was write a short story a day for the month of November. It could be 500 words, it could be 1,000 words, whatever. Just, at the end of November, have a short story for every day of the month. I read that Isaac Asimov would write a short story every day, and I read that Chuck Palahniuk follows this practice as well. And, yeah, I think Chuck's brilliant, and it's no wonder he can pump out a novel just about every year when he's deep set on writing practices such as this. I'll give it a try, see what comes out of it. Could have something that could become something more substantial, could have something that works into something else I'm writing, could be just gibberish and pointless banter. Who cares, I think it should be a good opportunity to get a schedule and just pump out new ideas. Yeah, it's not how NaNoWriMo 'should' be done, but it's all writing, it's all development, and I hope some really good stuff comes from it.


  1. Ambitious! November sounds intense.

  2. I have trouble focussing on just one thing, so while I'm sure I won't finish any one project, I'll at least get a good way in to a number of things. I think that way I've got time passing between each thing to think through how I want stuff to pan out.

    I've probably got mild ADHD or something. From wikipedia: "characterized primarily by inattention, easy distractibility, disorganization, procrastination, forgetfulness, and lethargy", that's pretty much me all round.