Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Regrets, I've had a few...

Like about five seconds after posting my last entry.

What was I thinking putting such first draft work out there in the public domain? Chapter two has already changed so much since that first draft version, and to be honest, I've hardly been working on it. What's with all the rhetorical questions in it? (See what I did there?) I've worked hard to get them out as I find them annoying.

I'll continue to post first draft work as it comes, cause what the fuck else am I gonna put on here?

Round about now is the time when I start second guessing everything I've written so far. The girl's not morbid enough, the boy's not scary enough. How do you write characters that are basically sociopaths, but then have them fall in love with each other? Isn't the whole point of sociopaths that they don't have emotions? So, are they just weird kids that have an overly complicated fascination with death? I like the beginning, but not the most recent bits so am I heading the wrong way? And what's with all the rhetorical questions?

I figure what I have to do is keep at it. If I start second guessing everything I've done so far I will stunt myself from being able to go further. If there's anything I've learned from my research into SNS it's that the best thing to do is just keep writing til you get to then end, then you have to go back and sift through all the shit to find a nugget of gold.

And then write it again...

And again...


I've been asked to come and read some of my work at the library for an International Women's Day event. The only readings I've ever done were from my first book, but I feel so removed from it these days that it would be strange to read from it now. Plus, I find it incredibly cringe-worthy. Talk about regrets.
I was talking to some of my students at a reading I organized for them (I think it's really important to be able to read your own stuff in front of an audience if you're a writer). They were saying how it's hard to know when you've finished a piece because they keep finding things to change. I told them, it's always like that. At some point (like when it goes to print) you have to accept that it's done, but you'll always find things in it you regret, or you wish you could change. I don't even look at my first book anymore, it's so littered with those bits.

So, I certainly can't read from it. I've decided to read the beginning (still very first draft-y) section of the new novel...

We'll see if I end up regretting it...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chapter 2: Like a Child in its Parents' Bed.

Am beginning to get concerned that in the first 26 pages of this novel I have killed three different animals and that where in my last novel everything hinged on a scene involving a dead cat...in this one, everything begins with a dead cat. Perhaps need to rethink my catalysts or I may be accused of having limited literary preoccupations. But it is a book about death. Of that much I am certain. So a small amount of death may be required.

As promised...some writing. This is the entirety of chapter 2 at the moment. Thought I might as well put a big chunk out there since I've been off the radar for awhile. If you don't like it...go fuck yourself. Kidding. Kind of.

Brandon stormed into his house, slamming the screen door behind him. What the fuck was her problem? Why did she care so much about some dumb lizard? He opened the refrigerator and took a bottle of Budweiser out of the door and twisted it open. His dad would just think he'd drunk it himself. He took a long gulp from the cool bottle and slammed it on the counter, flecks of foam splattering out onto his wrist. He didn’t feel guilty. Why should he? Who was this dumb girl that kept showing up and trying to make him feel guilty?
Who was she?
He hadn’t even recognized her at first, when she knelt beside him in the park. Had ignored her, hoping she’d get bored and slope off. But then he’d looked her straight in those swamp colored eyes and it hit him like a punch in the stomach. Those same eyes glaring hate and disgust into him only two weeks before. That breathy voice, far too deep and throaty for a girl who couldn’t be older than ten.
This time she wasn’t looking at him with hatred though, but with something else. Openess. Forgiveness maybe?
Heat gripped his stomach as their hands touched and at first he wondered if maybe she didn’t recognize him. If maybe he could start again from scratch. Pretend to be somebody else.
But she knew who he was. She’d started to say it…to ask about the cat. And the hot clutching in his stomach had turned to ice and he’d felt shame. And that made him angry.
And when he got angry he hurt things.
Why had she come over in the first place? Why if she knew it was him? What did she want from him?
He’d had a second chance and had blown it. She’d certainly never come to him like that again. Warm and open and curious. Like she cared about him or something. But she couldn’t. ‘Cause she didn’t even know him.
We wiped his forehead with the back of his hand and pressed the sweating bottle to it. He took deep breaths, trying to get his heart to slow to its normal plodding pace. He felt one hundred years old.
Upstairs he crept to the door of his parent’s bedroom which was open an inch, a soft light emitting from behind it. He could hear his mother's short breaths coming from inside. He pushed the door open wider and let his eyes adjust to the dim light. She looked so small in the bed. Like a child in its parents’ bed. He wanted to gather her up in his arms and hold her, and even at a mere fourteen, he easily could have, he was so tall and broad. And she had wasted to almost nothing. A fading Polaroid of herself.
No, what he really wanted was for her to wake up and hold him on her lap and rock him in her lithe arms like she had done when he was small. But he’d never be small enough for that again. And she’d never be strong enough. He wanted to cry then, but couldn’t do it in front of his mother. Even if she was in a sedative induced sleep and would never know. He shut the door behind him and entered his bedroom at the other end of the hall. He drew a battered pack of his father’s Lucky Strikes from his untidy underwear drawer, pulled a matchbook out of the plastic wrap and lit a cigarette with the last match inside it. He collapsed onto the unmade bed, sucking smoke.
He stared out the window, sipping beer and ashing into an old cereal bowl, encrusted with yellowed milk residue. It hadn’t been that long ago that his mother had come into his room every Sunday, ranting about what a mess it was and whirling around him throwing dirty socks into a laundry basket tucked under her arm, gathering up old dishes while he snapped and shouted at her to get out of his private space. The mess was now at least two months old and he wished he'd never given her such a hard time about trying to take care of him.
The fierce look in the girl’s eyes kept coming back to him. He shook his head to rid himself of their disapproval but they stuck there even when his eyes were closed, like the after affects of staring into the sun.
His mother would have cared too. Would have cared about the salamander and the cat. But she barely existed anymore so what did it matter?
He took a last sip of beer but spluttered it onto his tee shirt as silent sobs overtook him. He shook and buried his face in his pillow. He wished the girl was there now, in his room, on his bed. He wanted her to rest her small head on his back while he cried. He wanted to feel her cool hand on his burning face.

Suddenly Seeking Reader

So much for New Year's resolutions, huh?

It's already the middle of February and I've spent most of my time this past month drinking, dancing, playing roller derby and generally finding any excuse not to write. My husband's been in Siberia for a month and I was honestly convinced that his absence would motivate me to write more. That while he was gone I would be so bored in the empty house that I would be forced to sit down and write. Turns out, I was so bored in the empty house that I left it at every possible opportunity and stayed out til four in the morning drinking vodka sodas and dancing to Journey.

Apparently, when left to my own devices, I revert to my natural state. My natural state being...drunk.

But he's back now and I've dutifully returned to the keyboard to write both here and in 'the novel'. It was hard to sit down and start, with my old friend panic joining me quite quickly, but once I did, it's been moving ok.

I'm currently dealing with the fact that up until now, the narrative has swirled around Wendy and has been told mostly from her perspective. The newest chapter however, is from Brandon's perspective. I'm not sure why I'm doing this, but it just seemed right at this point in the story. But I can't help wondering whether this will be sustainable in the long run. Really, it doesn't matter and I should just write it however it is coming out for now. That's what redrafting is for! But it's hard not to at least try to be thinking three, five, seven chapters ahead.

What I really need right now is a reader. Every writer needs a reader. If you write a whole novel in a vacuum, with no outside perspective (I've been using that word a lot), you'll become blind to it. Won't see when it's strayed too far off the path.

My husband's a writer. A really good one. But he's my husband so I could never trust him to be objective (even if he would be). I have a great deal of extremely smart and well read friends who I know would be willing to read for me, but they might not read with the same close, critical eye that another writer would. I have writer acquaintences, but none that I'd feel comfortable asking to read something at such an early stage. It's a big ask really. It takes time and effort and most of these people are working on their own writing while marking student's writing. It's like whether they know you really well or hardly at all, it's difficult to be honest. There's always my agent (Hello Caroline!), but really it's not her job to read early stages of first drafts. She'll get the second draft.

I miss the workshop environment of University. Lots of writers, all at a similar stage in their 'writerly life'. All expected to be critical and constructive. It's invaluable and I worry that without that I'll forever struggle to get the words right.

Reader wanted: Objective, critical but not cruel, to read first two chapters of the first draft of my barely started second novel and tell me whether it's shit or not. Why or why not? No time wasters.

Expect a writing post later today. If you expect it, maybe I'll actually do it.