Monday, November 15, 2004
The best way to ensure that I keep on writing entries here is somehow to ensure that only piddling quotidian things happen in my life. When I can, in painful detail, recount the minutes and seconds of precisely nothing interesting happening I can clatter the keys like a bedlam inmate given a bell (presumably by a sadistic guard with a grudge against his neighbors).

But if anything interesting happens, if I actually start thinking deep thoughts, the terror inherent in the power of words stops them dead at my fingertips. These are not toys, I am reminded... at least not always, and certainly not properly.

So I'll start with the bits and hope I can build sideways to the bigger stuff. In all, really, it's best to give some stories time to sit-- to age like whiskey or wine, take on the flavor of the wooden cask that could be my mind, to be forgotten and reimagined. When big (or, in this case, truly bizarre) things happen, they are nonsensical. We need time to figure out what they mean and take the red pencil of selective memory to the bits that don't fit that mold.

First trifle: it is November. I have mentioned this before, but I hate this month and it hates me. I have sworn off Scorpios, for one. For another, the worst things in my life (too many of them involving Scorpios) always seem to happen to me in November. Perhaps this year I can think to the election results and no longer fear the sword weighing dangerously on its thread... but the November Surprise waits for such complacency. Once I think it vanquished, it chooses for its cover the illusion of safety, prepares and strikes.

November is also NaNoWriMo. Two years ago I took this as an opportunity to tackle a set of ideas, characters and situations that had been ripening and radically mutating in my head since I was about 16. The structure of trapdoor flashbacks and (as seen above) tricky memory, however, was far too ambitious for a first attempt. I spent more time drafting charts and timelines than I did with the actual writing. In the end, I was two or three subplots short of critical mass and so gave up.

On the bright side, I now have a much better idea of where the story is going and how to craft it, if I ever dare to make another attempt at it.

Last year I took a much less ripened idea and tried to run with it. I ran out of steam within a week, once again realizing that the limitations of the structure were more than I could handle without a solid plan.

What did they have in common? A first-person narrative, in journal form no less. A single voice, a single viewpoint. A pair of shackles. Last year, without the freedom of freeflowing flashbacks, was actually worse. NaNo as an event requires spontaneity.

My coworker K., whose advice I have grudgingly come to accept is usually spot on, thinks I should try again. The month already half over, this would be an even more masochistic and quixotic undertaking than usual. I think I may try anyway-- with a third-person ensemble picaresque that's been a mere unwatered seedling of an idea since the Summer of '94 (my first summer job, natch).

We'll see... I have to fold the laundry first. I recently acquired a seven-inch of Hot Snakes Peel Sessions, which may be just what I need for that.

And the triumph of the minutiae is complete! I'll write about the invasion of the Republican some later time...

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