Novel Update: Opening

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I finally revised my opening chapter, a process I detailed in this post. I’ve posted the new section below. Also, anyone who wants to read my current draft is welcome to do so (you can leave your e-mail in the comments section or DM me on Twitter if you follow me). The draft is full-length though it will include some typos and underdeveloped bits. You’re under NO obligation to give notes though any are certainly appreciated.

Anyway, here’s the new opening, a section of about 4500 words: Continue reading

Novel Update: Titles

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snoopy

With Thanksgiving bringing my real job to a bit of an impasse, I’ve been able to return to editing my book. This week, I’ve begun working through my opening chapter, attempting to alter it to match tones established during more recent writing sessions. Soon, I’ll add in some bits to round out minor characters or shallow storylines before engaging in a complete re-draft. But much of the book works for me at the moment. I may feel dissimilar in 6 months because lord knows, every screenplay I’ve attempted looked great upon immediate completion only to reveal itself as a horrifying mess a la the babe in Room 237. Continue reading

Novel Update: Before the Revision

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I’m finishing up the major draft of my book and preparing for revisions. One of the largest alterations will involve the opening chapter. This novel began as a short story I wrote as a junior in college; it was self-contained and not intended to lead to anything more substantial. But I dug the lead character and wanted more of her. Plus, my professor gave the piece high praise, the first of the six stories I wrote in creative writing seminars to generate particularly positive responses. Previous bits of fiction drew “Wow, you’re writing is…um, yeah, I liked how you used this word here,” reactions neither encouraging nor less than what I deserved.*

*If I get really bored, I may post some of those stories, though if I ever ran for public office, my opponent could use them as evidence of my diminished mental capacity. Continue reading

Grotesques

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In literature, “grotesques” appear as strange objects, bizarre figures in darkly comic scenes. In Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson creates a series of sketches featuring small-town grotesques. Shut-ins, eccentrics and the morally unsound fill Anderson’s collection of stories. These characters are part of a long-tradition of small-town oddballs quite common in today’s television comedies. Really, the stories of Springfield, South Park & Pawnee are direct descendants of Winesburg.

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Cigarette Burns: Atonement

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I’m reigniting the “Cigarette Burns” series if only for this post on Joe Wright’s Atonement. It may see a more consistent return here and over at …said the blind man depending on other responsibilities thrown at Andrew at myself.

*Spoilers Throughout*

What are the stories we tell ourselves to move forward? What are the lies, the distortions, the platitudes we repeat and remember to let us live through pain, disappointment & drudgery? What are the benefits gleaned when we lapse from reality? What are the handicaps?

We make concessions as we age. We have to. The dreams of our childhood never blossom to their full extent. They rarely spring in even the smallest of ways. We can’t have beautiful faces and lithe bodies and endless adventure and everlasting love smashed together to build a long, perfect life. Our minds will drift into fantasy, into revised pasts and impossible futures if only to preserve our tenuous sanity. We’re doing ourselves a service by embracing imagination and refusing to let life’s potential meaninglessness wholly engulf our psyches. But what of those around us, in their own reveries? Who do we alter, who do we hurt by taking flights off the ground and soaring above reality?

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Strange Critiques

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The short story seminars I took in college didn’t unfold with the same series of bitter invectives and simmering resentments as portrayed in Wonder Boys. We, usually 12-15 of us, were almost uniformly polite, wrapping criticisms inside compliments as any traces of venom or hurt revealed themselves in nothing beyond bitten lips and downcast eyes. In the three different seminars in which I studied, only two stories were, in my view and most others’, perfect. One was a humorous story with a Southern Gothic twinge (the young woman who wrote it was a Flannery O’Connor devotee) and the other was a chilling look at warped domestic life in Malibu. All other stories required significant notes that were usually delivered by 20-year-old students in no position to offer sound advice (myself included).

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