I have not been working hard on my novels for the last couple of months. I don’t know what the problem has been. I’m not sure any writer can tell you why they back away from a project. I have been writing, just not my fiction.
This has not been writer’s block. The few times I’ve sat down, I was able to write. But then I later re-wrote it. And I re-wrote it again. I sat at Starbucks and outlined once again, fully satisfied with the scene’s future, and I sat on it. Funny how our guts tell our minds it’s not right.
Last week I wrote a blog post for The Manatee. It was a simple, stupid post, but I thought it was funny. Others have too and it has over 2500 hits. That’s nowhere near great, but it feels good to me. The interesting bit was I wrote it in one sitting, made no revisions, and the editor accepted it as is. I read it again today and I laughed again. I also found no errors or changes I’d make. Believe me, this is positive reinforcement.
I’ve been reading Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. We all know the history of that book, but what I didn’t know was it was written as magical realism in an additive style. If you don’t know what an additive style is, then read Tony Reinke’s blog. I am not enjoying the book, but it is making me ask questions. I want a little more grounding, more story, more empathy. As Bill Shatner says, “I Just Can’t Get Behind That.”
But something says such a voice might be what I am looking for in my next project, an additive style but with friction and trust. By the way, as I listen to Bill, the song is written in an additive style. So today I sat in Starbucks, pulled out TWSBI Micarta fountain pen, and wrote a 500 word story. Then Sean Rouse stopped by and we chatted about writing. Sean was so encouraging, and when he left, I felt elated, motivated, and ready. I went home, had a nap, a great dinner, poured a glass of Magnetic Hill blueberry wine, and finished my Québec chapter. I wrote in a more additive style than I had been, and it felt good. It not only felt good writing it but also reading it. It felt right.
A missing ingredient in my voice? Perhaps. This is a constant game of assessing and reassessing. But I feel good. I feel very good tonight, and it’s not just the wine. Anyway, enjoy the beginning of story I wrote today, written in an additive style. It has not been edited or revised except as I transcribed it. Nearly straight from the pen.
Her load was too big. He’d told that to her too many times, so many times that she stopped listening to him, so many times that he was sure she purposely refused to listen to him. Marion Black may not be the brightest streetlamp on the backstreets of Dallas – it only makes sense that if a lamp is punched, kicked, and clubbed with garden and auto-repair implements enough times, dimness would creep into the shadows of the mind – but if one person in a relationship stops listening to the other, then there is a good chance there is a communication problem and the relationship may be in peril. It only made sense that when he saw the dual forces of her stumbling with her wavering load of apricots, piled higher than her eyes, and the speeding 1988 Oldsmobile Delta 88, green, bigger than his mother’s mobile home, pristine as oil refinery piping before they encroached on each others’ spaces, before the inevitability of collision was imminent, and before she busted the Oldsmobile’s grille, that Marion Black would not move. His hands did not attempt to roll down a window, open the door, or press his truck’s horn (the horn was busted anyway). He wanted to think that he knew such actions were pointless, that he was powerless to save her, that she’d have kissed the Oldsmobile with her lips spread and apricots splattered, but if Marion Black is one thing, it is honest. No such thoughts coursed through his mind, and he was too dim-witted to create any visions to compensate for his emotional void. The truth came a long time after being realized. And the truth was Marion Black didn’t react when she and the Oldsmobile perished – the young driver of the Oldsmobile panicked and swerved into an oncoming 30 foot U-haul van, the front of the Oldsmobile collapsed, and the young lad kissed the back of his engine as it drove into his face. Marion Black never flinched, his mouth didn’t open, and no tears offered to be shed. He never even thought it was a cool – by any objective Texas standard, a slightly overweight woman overburdened with cases of apricots kissing the grille of a 1988 Oldsmobile Delta 88 travelling at 70 mph in a 30 mph zone performing seven and a half summersaults and plunging feet first into a chasing police car and wrapping her legs around the police officer’s face would be considered cool. Marion Black shook his head, said ‘my life as I know it is over,’ started his 1974 Ford pick-up (yellow and rusty), and hit the road. He didn’t even stop at their apartment for clean underwear and a beer. He drove onto highway30, said ‘I’ll follow that thunderstorm,’ and he drove. Three months later he stood in front of a sign that said Welcome to Vermont. He still hadn’t bothered with clean underwear.