From the Place

I guess that’s the hardest thing to do – write from the place of origin. Where is the center of the story? That, for me, is the most difficult thing to find. Lately, I’ve been listening to Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange. It’s hard for me to listen to anything else these days. It’s such an incredible album in it’s entirety.

So honest and perfectly carved up. “Mango peaches and lime. Sweet life.” The studio was his for the whole thing. What is it that makes this album so special above so many others? Not a clue, but I know my ears can’t listen to anything else without craving for more of that album. It gave me faith in music again and made me enjoy art – which is so sublime – such a feeling of pleasure and relaxation and, at the same time, a heightened state of understanding. Trying to find the center of the story, so I’ll need to shake the characters from my other three and focus.

Can’t bring them along this time. Something different. Guess that’s what it’s like to try to make it. Make something real out of something as unreal as letters strung together. I guess that’s what I’m after in this new one – and I’m stuck as hell as usual at this phase. With about 100 or so type-written pages, 150 computer written pages on this book behind me, I’m ready to go, but just looking for the jumping off point. Where is it coming from? Love? Sadness? Loss? Want? There has to be a seed – a center of the universe for each book, and though I haven’t found one yet for this one, I’m circling around in my Carl Sagan space craft (if you’ve seen those old 70s Cosmos shows you know what I’m talking about).

I don’t mind the frustration part of this section of the process. The birth will be worth it, so I continue. All 3 of my books have started out here in some way, so there is something magical about this sketch book. Calling out to my characters in hopes that they hear and will finally jump in the right way onto the page just like the Lyrics in Frank Ocean’s songs.

I do remember now some amazing moments in “A Visit from the Good Squad” when the boy takes a dip in the bathtub and we see the main character’s reaction to that. Incredible moment. It’s the same when Ocean is in the cab. Just honest moments. Looking for honest moments in fiction is like looking for sanity in an office environment.

Still, you must create beauty out of those moments. Maybe it’s that. Creating beauty out of the moments of pain. Exposure.

 

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Hollywood Forever

Dear Hollywood,

We’ve known each other since I was 5 years old.

How special you are beyond the sights of the tour buses.

You exist at the end of a long wait for an Astro Burger order at 2 AM with onion rings stacked.

There are secret statues along Sunset Boulevard of Greek philosophers speaking truth next to the strip clubs.

Your waiters spill out from hopefully soon-to-be-over nighttime gigs at clubs and restaurants where they serve who they hope to be.

Hollywood Forever (2013)

Hollywood Forever (2013)

Your mountains have secret trails and legends of their own that can only be fully explored on life altering dates with a woman who causes trembles as moves towards finally kissing her are made.

The stools in diners like Angels, up past the Sunset Boulevard most tourists know, still turn slowly, and the clock on the wall is backwards while nobody says a word.

There is always an alley where actors are practicing their lines – but only when it’s light. The shift happens after sunset and it all starts again.

You have classic horror movies showing for free on the walls of the oddest places, and all around the glow, young lovers, and those looking for love outside of their facebook status, are settling in for the night.

Across the street, at the bus stop, more citizens sit and wait for a ride home.

The strange thing, for me at least Hollywood, is that everyone who comes here wants to be on a screen instead of part of your insides.

The rest of the world is beginning to catch up with your ability, but I believe it’s your soul that will keep them falling in love, forever.

This book, Hollywood Forever, is how I saw you all those years.

-CH

Vests

Crossing the waters in Brooklyn

Crossing the waters in Brooklyn

On the way to the subway, saw these kids taking a field trip for their school. Holding hands and looking across the wide street with wide eyes and cautious strolls, each of the movements were so different. Each took steps and moved in their own ways. Once across, some acted like they had just set foot on new land after a long journey, while others continued as if it were no big thing. The orange vests though – it was as if they were all in the same kind of club.

Handed out to those who still were able to exist on imagination, they all belonged to that exclusive club of youth. Of not knowing.

I tried to get a shot of all of them walking together in a straight line so that they may look like orange ducks, but the use of a camera has never been by strong suit.

Around the country, scenes like these may have been repeated over and over again, some needing vests, some just strolling and holding hands. Wonder what would happen if adults would hold hands and look out for each other’s safety. If we did continue to look out for each other. Something though, changes when we loose the vests and loose the time in the middle of the day to cross the street safely. We let go of clasped fingers and start walking on our own, trying to be the first on the sidewalk and then looking back and feeling better that others are still in the middle of the ocean.

We are though, all in the middle of the ocean. We reason other things and believe that the truth, whatever it is, can guide us and justify our actions. Even thoughts such as that, so much going on when the cross of the street happens. Perhaps there should be an national orange vest day where everyone who is wearing an orange vest will be okay with you walking up to them, grab hold of their hand, and walk with them across the street.

Right there, even writing that, I laughed at the silliness of such a thing.  You probably did too, but these kids seem to have been doing a pretty good time of it. Maybe it could be sponsored by Prell or one of the other hand sanitizing products – encouraging the clean use of holding someones hand as you travel to your destination. Odd ideas when you take time to notice the crossing of the street.

Character Dives

Perhaps I should put everyone somewhere and see how they react. That place doesn’t necessarily have to be in the story directly. Let’s give them a resting point on a journey. Somewhere where everyone needs to be for a bit. Like a cafe – I spent enough time working in them to know my way around there. No – I’ve used that before. Where else? A school. Places I’ve worked since I started working. These are the Jobs in order – at least in order of my memory:

Closing envelopes at a lawyers office. Intern at a public radio station’s archives. Cashier at Save-On Drugs in the Marina. Phone room selling the Los Angeles Times. Cafeteria worker at the food court in college. Dishwasher at the food court in college. Pizza delivery guy in college. Banana Republic salesperson. Starbucks coffee guy. Regular Cafe coffee guy. Putting the clothes back in the stock room of a woman’s clothing store. Chimney Sweep salesperson. Juice Bar operator.  Waiter at a number or restaurants (This sounds interesting as it gives me a bunch of people who are in a place they are trying to get out of).

Let me stop there and try that – I think after my job waiting tables, I started in my 10 years of advertising and office scenarios that are all pretty much the same play. Maybe something at  restaurant and I could move out from there. It would have to be a fictitious place and I’m not sure where to set it, not yet anyhow. Los Angeles would seem to make sense as that’s where I waited tables most my life – though not sure I would want to do another story in Los Angeles. Brooklyn is more like it as I have yet to set anything here and have tons of notes on something happening in Brooklyn. Yes, that could be a nice setting. You would have a number of regulars that came to the restaurant, as well as people who were working there – and, even better, it allows for the random stranger to be walking in. I could even put my main character in there – The scientist who refuses to be part of the corporate world of science and biotech and instead works on things on her own time. It could be her secret. Well, let’s keep it on the ground for a bit before we decide to go racing off to the clouds. That is extremely important.

I could set it right here in Forte Greene, Brooklyn. Yes. In an old carriage house. Yes. The place could be called the carriage house. Maybe it’s haunted or something like that. Like from the ghosts of the prisoners who were on the ships just off the bay here. Ghosts. That would be interesting. What I would really like to get into is the concept of someone spending their whole life either trying to change the past – change something that was done in the past – or spend their entire life trying to save someone or something from happening. There has to be something there. Let’s try to gather a bunch of people in that restaurant and see what happens.

I have already my female lead. She’s in her 20s, early 20s. Didn’t go to college or graduated very early. She works there to make money but has a secret. Yes, that would be interesting. After work, everyone else hangs out or something, but she always runs home and gets into something.

The owner of the restaurant – We could make her an ex wall street person from Manhattan who gave it up for something and wanted to no longer work behind a desk and make money for the sake of making money. She may have divorced someone and is living out here life in Brooklyn away from Manhattan and then come over to Brooklyn to set up a shop. There, she hires people that she likes and has them all come in. Yes. This is working. I have less of that crazy anxiety in my heart where I am in the dark. Keep going. She is in her mid 30s. She should have a kid who she is raising by herself. Maybe we can make her a bit older so I can have the kid go to the High School down the street. Yes, that would be cool

Daughter of the owner of the restaurant – She is in high school and is a bit of a bad ass and severely independent. We could make her a weed head with some of the other kids in school and follow her in some adventures around there. It might be fun and interesting to do that. She could be a cool character. 16 years old and a smart, indi girl in Brooklyn who’s mom owns a carriage house restaurant. Yes. She could come in and work doing all the computer stuff and marketing. She is responsible for the place’s success, but she is not doing well for herself. Could be a very interesting character. Yes. We’ll give her a boyfriend.

Boyfriend of the daughter of the owner of the restaurant– He lives in Chinatown in Manhattan and might be the one who is showing her that there is life outside of school. He’s a bad kid – does minor crimes and might even sell drugs – not hard stuff at first, but we can follow him as he gets deeper into the game a bit. We’ll see him change that way. They have known each other since they were little and promised themselves to each other, but time and natural things that happen in life are moving them apart. It will be a struggle for them to both survive and stay together.

Waiter and love interest of the owner – This could be the stranger passing through town or student at Pratt who the owner had a crush on and hires him. He could be much younger than she is – he is closer to the age of her daughter and we might be able to play with some tension there. He is some kind of artists – photographer, painter, multi-media, graffiti- something like – and he and the older woman of the restaurant would have some kind of romantic relationship.

Customer who is in love with the owner –  This would be someone who is in love with the owner but she doesn’t want anything to do with him – we find out because he wants love and commitment – he is lost and looking for something- and the owner isn’t quite ready to give that. It would be cool if this were a ghost or something like that, but I am not sure I want to go and mix mediums here. We’ll see. I tried it a few times in Last Block and it came off a little ambiguous – which is something I want to avoid here. Make a choice and stick with it. Still, it would be cool if this character were one of those people that have worked and lived in so many places. Yes, that would be interesting.

Cat – Yes, need a little guy or so. He was a runaway or stray. I would love to be able to give him or her a point of view in the story. I might if I’m daring enough. He would be a stray cat who never got “fixed” so he goes around giving other cats kids and contributes to the booming cat population in Brooklyn. Might be fun to play with that a bit. I had a spat during the summer where I had it that all of Brooklyn had been taken over by cats, though I don’t think that would play that well for an entire story. One character her will be enough. I spend a few weeks writing the cat take-over story, so that will serve me well here.

****

Okay, this is developing well. As usual, I went backwards a bit over the past few months and started with story and plot and tried to fit some characters in there, but, as usual, now that they have arrived, I’m letting them and allowing them to take control of things. It’s usually best to do so at this point, otherwise, the author will get in the way and all you’ll get is someone telling you what they think and most people don’t want that. Most readers don’t – and I think, most authors don’t. So I have to continue to strip away and move myself out of the way so these folks can take over. I really do like the idea of a restaurant being in a carriage house in Forte Greene, Brooklyn. Seems like a fun spot for it all to be located in. Good movement and allows for trips to Manhattan.  Also allow for things to go on around the neighborhood. We’ll see how it all plays out. For now, I’m going to think about their interactions and movements and space out from there.

I saw The Petrified Forest the other night and was amazed at how everyone at the Gas Station set in that movie moved around each other. Should be interesting to play with. As usual, it’s all just a sketch and trying to make sense of something on paper and not in the mind. I think it would be interesting to make the general theme of all of these people ending up in one place having to deal with each other, and seeing if they ended up where they wanted in life, if they will stay, where they will go, and how those choices are going to affect their character. I’d like to focus very much on those choices this time and see what happens.

 

 

 

 

George Saunders Interview

Saturday Mornings are amazing not only because the pace of the world changes for a bit, but because the Sunday edition of the New York Times arrives. We get the weekend subscription and that usually does us good for the week.

Today’s present included an interview with George Saunders – and while lengthy, it offered some amazing jewels that I have been carrying around all day long.

Aside from the start of the piece which pretty much makes you appreciate each moment of your life, there is a true gem of a quote that I have gone back to many times already and am still mulling over in my head.

George Saunders says:

“I began to understand art as a kind of black box the reader enters,” Saunders wrote in an essay on Vonnegut. “He enters in one state of mind and exits in another. The writer gets no points just because what’s inside the box bears some linear resemblance to ‘real life’ — he can put whatever he wants in there. What’s important is that something undeniable and nontrivial happens to the reader between entry and exit. . . . In fact, ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’ seemed to be saying that our most profound experiences may require this artistic uncoupling from the actual. The black box is meant to change us. If the change will be greater via the use of invented, absurd material, so be it.”

That is a very profound statement and one that has caused me to pause for a moment. Whatever is inside of the story is not really important – but it’s the change the reader goes through. Amazing. Going to chew on that one all day as I try to fit that in with French movies and the world inside the human brain.

 

La Havre

Well, I just consulted with my physician friend who has helped me keep my facts straight for my other books. He basically told me the premise for the story I had in mind was impossible, so I need to find a way to play with fiction and reality a bit more to make it happen. That’s fine. Research and finding ways to make it all come together are the way to get the characters nice and round. Like them round.

Perhaps I can structure the whole thing with the skeleton of a french movie. I really like how they are done. I saw La Harve the other night and haven’t been able to get over how it was filmed. Each frame so perfect and each piece of dialogue moved with the settings. There was a sense that nothing was real and everything was real at the same time.

I emailed the director to tell him – his name is Aki Kaurismäki – I told him that watching his movie made me love films again, and he even wrote me back. Well, it was his assistant or someone – but they wrote me and said that they forwarded my email to him to let him know what I said, which made me happy. It’s nice to be happy at things like that. Perhaps somehow that could be in the story – another person answering my calls out the universe for help with this thing, whatever it turns out to be.

So far, I’ve been contacted by my grandfather (in spirit form), the man who was selling his book, the book itself – which arrived the other days and contains very bizar photo of medical examinations and experiments. That was odd, but I was ready for it. At least the book was in English.

Now I have reached out an been contacted by the assistant of the director of the movie that I was moved by. Maybe it’s coming together in another form. The structure of French Cinema – that seems fun to look at. I have always how they made their films – how they weren’t afraid to hold on a shot at the end for that extra second even if drew out the scene – and how they were not afraid to do a quick cut to go on to the next. It’s like how Milan Kundera writes his books – tender when it’s need and out the door when it’s needed as well.

It’s cold now – the radiators are off and the sounds of cars are sporadic at best on the street below. Brooklyn is quiet at 12:20 A.M. on a Friday night or Saturday morning, however you choose to look at the world. It’s cold at my back but the warmth of the blankets below suggest there are other options. French movies – Perhaps they just saw too much in their lifetimes happen on their own soil – they found beauty in the flickers.

Talking about the people of course – not the ones who sit inside of those buildings and exist because of flags. It happens most times like this when trying to get the next book done. I have around 100 typewritten pages from a typewriter that I will probably not use and another 100 on this machine that will serve as notes. I might finally be able to get down something decent, thought my trusted doctor friend blew a hole in my initial idea, but I will go at it from another angle.

One of my readers contacted me and told me a story of her father and closely it had matched some of my ramblings here about the back story of the women who’s father was a furniture maker. It’s interesting because the story that she told me I actually had written down over the summer – that happens for the most part with me – I start writing and it comes true in some odd form. Always in some odd form.

So that’s what I am working with these days and now these nights in this eternal search for a decent fish that I might land.

 

..What if life was like a French movie, complete with all the sounds that came from the speakers that were not attached to the screen. That’s the kind of thing I was thinking when I walked down Fulton street last night. It was hot – middle of the summer Brooklyn hot when you moved slow and had to spray a decent amount of OFF on you to keep the Misquotes from choosing you. They showed movies on the wall of the outdoor cuban cafe that was across the street from Greenlight Bookstore, where I always enjoy just looking at the covers of books through glass. Something magnificent about that I belief. They were playing La Havre, which I’d seen before but never outside and never so big. The colors were like a Norman Rockwell painting that had come to life and lived a little bit in bad neighborhoods to get some grit. Everyone acted perfectly in the film on the wall – and all of the tragedy was delivered straight up without sentimentality was served straight no chaser.

If life was like a french movie, I would have gotten a call by now. Someone with a lead on some business would have come and got me, but it wasn’t like that in the summer, and certainly not in this climate. I needed a client and bad or I’d have to go back to waiting tables or teaching English or some other gig that paid the rent but left me tired buy unable to sleep at night. I looked out at the carriage house across the street and, if life had been a French Movie, maybe I would have seen something that I shouldn’t have seen and gotten swept up in an adventure or romance or something like that. As it was, there was only the flicker from the TV.

An odd, empty tour bus rolled by, limping like a spotlight from a lighthouse that no longer had ships to guide. Those are usually not out at night but run like clockwork during the day, especially these days in Brooklyn. The secret is out. If it were a French movie, a spirt would try and contact me around this time and let me in on some secret or start guiding me towards something  – perhaps the spirit wouldn’t be in a human form or a ghost form, but only in a thought.

Maybe there is something there. We’ll see.

Today

The book should be arriving today and I hope that it adds to the new character. As usual, I’m not having too much of a problem developing the women character, but can’t quite get a focus on the man yet. I guess it’s because I spend more of my life looking at women rather then men. They make for more interesting characters in real life and in fiction. This time though, with this new book, I’d like to get the men characters a bit deeper. I think that Hollywood Forever did a good job with that – I liked Harold Hall very much – but I’d like to get at more of a created history with the new male character in the book. Give him some scars that are a must to get over.

That’s a fantastic thing about characters that I really enjoy – getting over a wound. It’s important to show why someone was like they were. If they kill now – though I am not sure I have ever had anyone murder someone in one of my book – but if I did or do, there would have to be that deep reason that gives you the understanding of why they do what they do.

That might get me in trouble a bit in the real world as I am constantly looking at people – at why they do what they do – and try to find the reason behind that. Everything worthwhile on the page takes place off the page. The creation of history – so I am looking forward to getting the book – and am curious what stage it’s going to play in the book I am writing now. I guess you can call this writing – at this stage anyhow. Saturday morning at 7:37 A.M. fishing around for history. I have a scientist character at this point in the book – I had her for a long time actually, and I think she has to have some history that she is running from. Something that she doesn’t want to face, and therefor throws herself into her work so much that she is able to escape reality for a little bit – or as long as she may like – so that she can continue on with her work. That’s interesting. I had written some things about her father being a furniture maker and he was doing pretty well until he refused to sell his designs to a big manufacture – So his family had to do without and she had to work her way through all of her schooling.

I had him in a little shed in a house in upstate New York with a cool pick up truck they used to drive around town in – Though I think it’s too much of an ideal to have her and him like that. I know little about trucks and even less about making furniture, but if I was to stick to only what I know, my characters would be repeats of each other instead of individuals. Sarah Striker, the main character in Pharmacology, I had her with a nice and close relationship with her father – and that character was someone who had given up on his life so he could raise a family. I think this character would be a little different. It would be nice if something took a life away from her that she felt she deserved. Something with the economy I think – some force outside of what she could control as a little girl – that’s what happened – that force changed her life as a youngin and shifted her course.

This way, if it happened this way, I would be able to show her running away from something but at the same time running towards it and trying to fix it. I guess that’s always one of the things that’s hardest to do: Start out by giving the character exactly what she wants, taking it away from her, and having her chase it even if she doesn’t realize that she is running towards it instead of running away from it.

So, that is where it’s at for now. Over 150 pages of notes from the past few months and now to go into all of them and find a few lines. That should be interesting. I’d like to give her some things that she absolutely loves. I think the sounds of motion are going to be keep to her. Something like “My eyes have never been able to replicate what my ears take in. It’s just always been this way.” Something like that. That and of course, a name, which is always the pain in the ass for me. Who knows.

Spirits again.

The other night, I couldn’t sleep, so I started in with the Google friend. It’s a close comfort some on those late winter nights when you have no choice but to go to bed and get warm before the radiator wears out. It was Christmas even, but we don’t much go in for celebrations of that kind of thing these days. Presents and cut down trees just don’t rank. There is a burning inside both of us these days to get ahead. For me, it’s always on the search for a new story. Things had been going pretty well with my father as of late. I went with him to the MOMA to check out the Christian Marclay exhibition – The Clock.

It’s an interesting concept – Marclay edited together 24 hours of film footage with clips showing the actual time it was in the real world – so that, if it was 1:34 PM in the real world – the world you were sitting in the theater experiencing, up on the screen, someone would have that same time on a watch or clock. It ran for 24 hours and people were just sitting there watching time move. Really interesting on a conceptual level I think – and for someone like me, who has time in their minds and constantly has a clock winding down, it’s amazing.

I had been, I think, feeling his father’s (my grandfather’s) spirit around me for the past couple of weeks. So, that night, with the images of clocks ticking away in my head and me wondering what the movie was playing somewhere – I Googled my grandfather and managed to find him – and not only that, but I found a book he had written and started reading experts from it. The stories of my grandfather were far and few between – either because I haven’t had much time to talk with my father about them or perhaps because his life was too painful to talk about. I have felt that a piece of myself was missing for never having known him.

Anyhow, I started reading about him and found that he had written a book here in the United States called “Motor Disorders of Nervous Diseases” – and written in with a man named Tracey Putnam. I had known my grandfather had written a book, but in my mind it was all in German and published back in Germany – so I thought that I would never get to read it. However, on this night, I was able to find the book and read little passages of it. Not only that, I found out about the man who had written the book with my grandfather – Trace Putnam.

As I read more, I also found out the my grandfather had produced 10 films on Neurological disorders that came with muscle spasms in the body – and that these films were available at a university in Maryland. These appear to be pretty hard core in their experimental nature – but I feel like I need to see them. Perhaps he will be on the film. We’re going to need to take a trip down to Maryland I think. Now, as I saw the book, I figured, well, got to check on Amazon to see if the book was there. It was. For 10 bucks. Placed my order right there and got excited.

See, lately, I think I said this, I have been feeling his spirit and I think he is coming around the house late at night trying to talk with me. I stayed up until 4 A.M. on Christmas morning reading about him and Mr. Putnam. It appears that Mr. Putnam was relieved of his duties at Columbia as head of the Neurology department there because he refused to join in the anti-Semitic talks that had been going on through the university. There was very little about my grandfather though – and I started to wonder why. It turns out the Putnam was credited with being the man who discovered a drug that would temper the effects of epilepsy – but there was no mention of my grandfather.

When I woke the next day, I had an email from the man who I had purchased the book from – and strangely enough, he seemed to know my neighborhood very well. It turns out that he used to live a few blocks from where I live now. The story grows from there – the book of my grandfather’s was part of a huge collection of medical books that had been rescued from this library here in Brooklyn – again, not but a few blocks from where I am now.   The man who wrote me an email – the one who had my grandfather’s book – actually holds a collection of over 100,000 books that he had rescued from libraries around the country. He is a savior of books, and one of them, happens to be my grandfathers.

We started emailing back and forth, and it turns out that the man who had the book had inherited – somehow – the massive collection from somewhere else. Soon, this was turning into a great story of discovery, and much like some of the fiction I write, the real world started coming across my reality. The book that my grandfather wrote deals with neurons and all of the madness happening inside our brain – telling us what we do and why we do it – something that I am trying to base my new book on but can’t really put the story on it. I believe that my grandfather’s spirit is going to guide me in this new book, and the adventure of writing it is going to lead to a great many places. I’ve decided to, try at least, to document that here. Excited as hell to get the book, but also learn more about the man who saved thousands of books from being destroyed.

Does each one of those books that were destroyed have a history and purpose and story to tell itself? I do believe so – just like all of the people out there who are being needlessly destroyed – they too have stories themselves – and perhaps some of them are calling out to me through my Grandfather’s spirit. So that’s what I am in search of now – his spirit to guide me through the next book. Perhaps we hold all of the DNA of our ancestors inside of our minds and when we open up to them, we can bond with the past. We are just extensions of everyone that came before us – made up of neurons and all of the axons that information seems to be traveling on these days. Those pathways. I am trying very hard to get inside the mind and find out how we travel – how our thoughts travel and how are thoughts literally become us. Then though, the thoughts we have in our brain are somehow not only ours, but they belong to our ancestors – the ones who are responsible for us being here. I have to let these thoughts guide me on this one – to see where it all leads.

The book should be coming soon – but I intend to explore a bit all of the people responsible for making it come to me. There had to be a map – some reason or science behind who were are and what we think. That connection might be there – in some way it has to be there. Anyhow, the book is coming and I think that it’s going to be something special. Perhaps he will be the narrator of the new story, though I’m not sure how that would work. The story is set in the modern world, and he existed in a another time – a time of patience and process. All of it though was stripped away from him – perhaps I can give it back. I’ll be up here in the mornings working it out and getting these things out of my head so I can write the actual book, but I have a feeling that the search for what really happened is going to be a story in itself.

Why is it being put in front of me like that? Maybe it was the pictures of my grandfather that I have around my house – those black and white ones, One I have is from 1939 – though I don’t know if that was before or after he was taken away only to escape and do a new life all over again. I don’t know much, but I am going to piece it together – all of the information has to be in my mind.

Again.

That was the break.

After moving around with sketches and trying to find a path, the book that was being fiddled with on here in done, in the cooker, and in the hands of those making it ready for the world. Best thing to do at this point is to put my head down and get going on the new one. For those who have followed this blog, you know the drill. It’s my playground out here and when done, it comes off and into the machine that makes it all go. That may be the mind. For now, it’s exploration time. The good times. The times of early mornings and first thoughts and not worrying about the smallest details.

Now, I’m looking for the voice of the narrator for the new story, and can’t figure it out. Reading some Dennis Johnson over the past month or so – particularly his novella Train Dreams. It was incredible to me how he managed to have the narrator speak in the times that his characters were living in. Language itself has so much to do with how a story unfolds: It can actually establish the setting more than describing the surrounds can. I’m working on this part of craft right now, and it requires some patience – which is something I don’t have much of but am learning and trying to achieve.

Example of what I’m working towards:

The street below was full of children walking around with the freedom of not having a bell to answer to for a few days.

or

Cracked cement is forgotten because being physical dropped in rank to kids who refused to take both eyes or ears off of their little screens.

Both sentences give a sense of the street, but the second one, I think, is more in tune with the present time, so that, if someone were to read it, they could place themselves squarely in the the modern world. The narration gives the setting. Let me try with a street in a different time:

The returning students wondered about the new kids – they dressed the same most days and had odd food in their lunch pails. When we all traded at the table outside, they didn’t participate. Said something about needed it to be blessed or looked over. One of them, skinnier than most, spent his time looking at how his shadow bounced off the schoolyard concrete that had just been laid. Part of the new efforts after the war to build the country and keep everyone at work were all the highway and construction programs to public works, which of course extended to the schools.

I think the few sentences above give more of a time and setting. The way the narrator would talk and the tone at which he would address different people to a new area – the narrator themselves would need to have an opinion. It works like that if you place the narrator in the time that the story is being told. So that’s what I’m after a bit right now for this new book – The story is there, now I’m just going back and making sure I’m okay with the person telling the story. I would very much like to try something than first person right now – I say that quiet often I know, but this time, it would be fantastic to get intimate with another form.

We shall see. It never really turns out how you think – and I look forward to all of the characters taking over as they usually do. Anyhow, I’m back sketching up here for a bit. My first 3 books were all scribbled on up here – a big drafting board. Not sure why the WordPress format brings out the discipline of morning writing, but it does. Perhaps the structure is there.