My name's Dave. I'm working on it.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Catching Up

I'm well past the point of feeling a bit guilty about not writing. The it's time stage came and went, followed by the no, it's really time, Dave, followed by a paralyzing sense of apathy and regret. I'd lapsed too long; too many thoughts had flown through my mind, begging to be set down, and what was I doing instead? Getting stoned with a few co-workers and listening to Johnny Cash on vinyl. Playing around on Insound. Damn my addiction to playing on the internet.
Speaking of addictions, and in case you didn't catch the multiple hints I just dropped, I've become entirely addicted to shopping for vinyl. The ol' turntable is out of the closet and equipped with a new stylus, counterweight, and pre-amp, and everything is running splendiferously. The difference in sound quality is staggering. I'm listening to Thom Yorke's The Eraser and cannot believe how much better it sounds than the measly mp3s I have on my lappy. I'm certainly no audiophile - I don't understand why it sounds like the band is in the room with me. But it does.
It was almost a week ago that, in a haze of word wars and novelist fuel, I wrote approximately 10,000 words over the weekend and found myself Caught Up on my wordcount for the first time since I began. It felt extremely satisfying. But now I'm finding myself a bit restless. Instead of having to throw myself into a frenzy just to reach my goal, I only have to write a little bit each day. It's not sexy. Not exciting. Also, the story seems to be nowhere near winding itself down, unless I pull a blatant deus ex machina and simply wrap it up with a few reductive sentences. No! No! Bad writer, no muffin.
I am reminded of Michael Douglas in the film Wonder Boys, when Katie Holmes (Boy, I never, ever, thought her name would wind up in my blog) gently critiques his latest work-in-progress, saying "You always encourage us to make choices in our writing. And while this is really, really, beautiful, it just feels like you didn't make any choices, Teach."
That's me. The end keeps getting further and further away because nothing is risked, and I'm not committing to my characters and binding myself to their actions and natures. Instead it's just kind of plodding along, not awful, but not terribly interesting either.
I guess it's not too important. I'll get to 50K, even if it is a drab, boring, and entirely unfinished mess by the time I get there.
I'm racking my brain to come up with a good list of things I'm thankful for, even if it is coming a few days too late. I think this kind of thinking is best done at night, to be honest.
I will get to it, and soon. And I will try to be better at writing when I have something to say, and not leaving it to pile up and accrete until I am more blocked than the grease trap at my work after two months' neglect. To steal from Wonder Boys again, I'm just a little sad these days.
Such is being alive.
Big big love, friends.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Remember, Remember, the 11th of November

I have a friend who happens to look at the clock precisely at 11:11 on an almost daily basis, and is more than a little wary about this fact. We've talked about it a bit, and I joke with her that when November 11th rolled around, she ought to stay indoors entirely to avoid whatever catastrophes and pitfalls might be waiting for her.
Yesterday passed seemingly without incident. I saw her at our local coffeeshop, and she was smiling. I couldn't help but think that she had forgotten the date; otherwise she'd be far more apprehensive.
I've spoken to a few other people about this, and it seems we are not alone in our tendency to glance at our watches at such particular moments. Apparently there are many studies and groups which deal with this, such as the Midwayers and other New Age-y types. It was also the day of the ceasefire of World War I, back in 1918 (though it was only 11am when it was declared). It is the new number of evil, as well as a record by the lovely Regina Spektor.
But while most of the links I got after googling 11:11 seemed to focus on angelic intervention, it is still curious that we find ourselves looking at the clocks at these times. What's more, ever since I became aware of my friends predisposition towards it, I've been looking at my own watch at 11:11 far more often.
The novel progresses. I'm having a decent time writing in little bursts, taking breaks for coffee and tea, and then doing it over again. Over and over and over again. I've got a few characters who please me. However, control freak that I am, I'm not really letting them do their own thing just yet. That, and I'm just making life far too easy for all of them. Although I just killed off the character who was originally going to be my protagonist, and have found that he's far more interesting now that he's dead.
I went for a walk late, late last night. Soft, sprinkling electronic music came through the headphones as I walked over the I-84 freeway. I had been laid out by the two Terminal Gravitys I drank after work, and was still a bit buzzy when I meandered into the parking lot of Fred Meyer to deposit a check. Naturally the Wamu ATM was out of deposit envelopes. However, on my way round the building, I noticed that one of the sliding doors parted as I walked by (this was around 2 in the morning), and, unable to resist the curiosity, I crept inside. The inner doors opened as well, and I stood briefly beside the watch racks and electronics department, surveying an empty Freds. There were workers at the far end of the store, stocking and cleaning. I hid behind sales racks.
After my jaunt to the ATM I tried to go back in, and somehow in my semi-inebriated state I failed to notice that one of said workers was standing just inside the door. He barked at me: "We're CLOSED, man!" I hurried out with my tail between my legs.
In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have ventured in a 2nd time. But there is something intriguing about being in places during the off hours. And the beers probably didn't help either. C'est la vie.
Last night while we closed down the restaurant, one of the girls I work with was talking about some customer (excuse me, guest. We are a nice restaurant) who had come up to her and literally tapped her several times on the arm to get her attention. She was discussing how lonely people must be, how desperate for any kind of human contact, that they will reach out to servers or waiters, trying to engage them in conversation when they clearly have work to do. She spoke rather disparagingly of this guest, which was fair enough. But I realized, as she spoke, that I was no different from this man who'd tried to connect with her for a moment. So many times I feel myself nearly insane with the desire to feel my hand touching another's body. Just to feel it. Or at the very least to be out amongst people, like that old Smiths song talked about. The thought stuck with me the rest of the night, and as I walked home from Freds the feeling grew so intense that I detoured to Holman's for a late dinner and the company it would afford me. I paid for the French Dip, but what I really came for were the drunken people at the table adjacent to me, the neon beer lights and jukebox, the server who smiled and told me to spin the wheel. Is this it? Is this why bars succeed and people put poison in themselves?

I apologize for having to turn on word verification for those of you who would comment, but I was getting spam with increasing frequency. I hope it won't dissuade the rest of you fine people from leaving me notes. They always make me smile, no matter how small or insignificant they might seem to you.

Monday, November 06, 2006

In Which We Are Plodding Along

Every now and then I need some serious time alone. I forget it sometimes, when I get so desperately lonely that all I want is be out amongst people, out with my friends, my co-workers. Have a few drinks, a few laughs, and go home to fall contentedly asleep. But I've run a bit short on solitude lately, and am feeling it tonight.
It doesn't help that it's November, a.k.a. NaNoWriMo when I am (and I'm not alone in this, I imagine) prone to being very grumpy and high-strung. I find myself feeling put out by anything that demands my attention unless it's a) something I'm being paid for or b) my novel. Writers. We are a sensitive bunch.
Speaking of said novel... well, it's coming. Slowly, and a bit behind schedule, but it's coming. It feels completely different from last year, when I had such particular emotional dilemmas to resolve (read: write about transparently in novel). This year the field is wide open. Instead of being overly serious about the whole process, I'm hoping to enjoy myself a bit this time around, and maybe taste of bit of the good craziness that is so intrinsic to the heart of the thing. The delirium that comes from hi-speed creation.
So far, it's mostly filler. But it is decent filler. And it hasn't felt like pulling teeth. Not yet at least. If you are interested, you can track my progress with that little icon near the top left corner of the page.
Naturally, having to write this novel has pushed my non-noveling productivity into overdrive as well. I'm getting a lot of little tasks done in the name of avoiding the blank screen. For instance: After letting it collect dust in my closet for at least three years, I've finally gotten my beautiful Sony turntable up and running. As I type this, Elliott Smith's eponymous record is spinning, the rain is coming down in torrents, and I think I'm having an honest-to-god Portland Moment.
I bought a few of my favorite records on vinyl recently, and am getting a huge kick from walking over to the turntable, flipping them, and hearing the crackle crackle of the record as it gets compressed and sent through my speakers. Grin. I was getting really heartsick from so much digital music on my computer, acquired through the tapping of a few keys, and played just as easily. It warms my heart to listen to music in such an involved way again.
I walked to the library to return some books, stopped for Chinese on my way home, and got utterly soaked. It was glorious.