Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Literary Road-Block Continues

Every time I absorb something new -- a book, a movie, a short story or a play -- it affects the creative process. This isn't particularly news-worthy or unique; most creative people -- or so I'd imagine -- incorporate their respective environments in varying degrees into their creative output. I think the best example of this phenomenon is that of graffiti artists; most members of this unofficial collective, I'd wager, are from urban areas. Conversely, I doubt many graffiti artists have spent their entire lives in rural parts of Iowa, Idaho and Indiana; not that there's anything wrong with any of those places; however, one is far more likely to see graffiti living in a congested area like NYC than in the rural Midwest, and exposure to something begets its influence, and so on, and so forth, etc.

In any case, I'm still in the process of writing It -- the story. The last time I had the urge to fill a shitload of pages with one collective literary bowel movement was sometime in the late 90's, and while I believe I had something, what I wound up having was victimized by timing. I was writing a story involving an anti-hero facing an international terrorist -- the latter's name was to be the name of the novel -- and part of the story involved terrorists blowing up the George Washington Bridge, among other things.

And then 9/11 happened, and fiction and reality -- sort of -- collided pretty intensely, both literally and figuratively. And I stopped writing -- fiction, anyway -- for awhile.

I began writing again a few years ago, and have since amassed what I believe is a pretty solid skeleton of a story. There are a half-dozen different aspects to the story, all of which culminate in a coming together in what I believe is something worthy of my time, although whether it's worthy of others' time remains to be seen. Interestingly, the real kick in the ass this time around isn't fleshing out the characters or constructing the interactions but coming up with appropriate names for characters. For anyone who doubts the significance of characters' names in political thrillers, consider a CIA operative who kicks ass and who can navigate a 256-bit-encrypted arms dealer's notebook PC -- in Arabic -- and who answers to the name of Orville Redenbacher.

As indicated, it's all relative.

There are other aspects of the project that are giving me fits -- how certain key plot points come together are still a mystery to me, and while some people can fabricate a novel by using an outline, more often than not I don't know what's going to happen from one chapter to the next until I actually take the time to map it out, paragraph by paragraph. I suppose I should be jealous of someone who can envision the entire sequence of a novel in his or her noggin; for me, however, the writing is almost as entertaining -- albeit inestimably fare more infuriating -- than just reading a good story.

In any event, my problem now -- far more significant than the naming issue -- is those few key plot points that still have yet to be connected and/or worked out. Every so often things come to me -- when I'm half in or out of sleep, in the shower, watching an episode of The Inbetweeners (on BBC America -- highly recommended, by the way) or even when I'm on a 4 train headed up- or downtown.

The bottom line, unfortunately, is these connected points rarely -- if ever -- seem to come to me when I can actually implement them -- or, far worse -- remember them.

So I suppose I'll continue to let the cursor blink at me among pre-fab text and worry less about what it is I'm going to say and more about when it is I'm actually going to commit to saying it.

Put another way -- in the words of Stephen King, in the forward to "Night Shift" -- a writer writes. In my particular case, I'll keep doing whatever it is I'm doing in lieu thereof.

For now, anyway.

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