Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Found






Nixie had decided definitely on the young goth boy standing in the shadows at the end of the bar, partly because of the irritation she felt for his showy and pretentious imitation of her kind of which he clearly knew nothing.

Again.

Nixie had decided grimly upon the young goth boy standing at the end of the bar, in shadow, partly out of insulted rage at his ignorant imitation of her kind of which he clearly knew nothing.

Again.

The young goth boy at the end of the bar, all in black caught Nixie’s eye , partly out of a predatory rage at the imitation of her kind.

Worse and worse.

Again.

Nixie had decided on the young goth boy at the end of the bar, drawn by his pretentious imitation of her kind.

I’m pastiching this sentence by F Scott Fitzgerald (“This Side of Paradise”) that goes “Amory had decided definitely on Princeton, even though he would be the only boy entering from St Regis.” I got this from a book I’m studying called “Copy and Compose”, which is an old out-of-print manual of rhetoric focusing on the variations of sentence structure and their aesthetic effects. For a short story writer, this is the equivalent of sitting in your room practicing your scales. I’ve been studying this book in hopes of training my ear for sound and language. In case you’re wondering the Fitzgerald sentence is an example of “The Complex Sentence/Afterthought With Subordinator and Punctuation”. Yes sir, that’s just what it is too. No doubt about it.

I love words and sentences and paragraphs. This is my medicine for melancholy, and I’ve got a lot of melancholy these days. I’m trying to heal myself from the soul sickness I’ve been going through and I find refuge in words, in the dark room in my skull where imagination, regret and memory come together and give birth. I need words to heal myself, words from mentally gorgeous women who think I might be interesting to converse with, and words in books and poems from people who are better at this than me.


Of all the young men in black, standing in and out of shadows, Nixie chose the young goth boy at the end of the bar, exactly because he was trying so idealistically in his way to imitate her kind, of which he was clearly ignorant.

Now it's getting bent up.

Again.

Nixie’s discerning eye went straight to the young man in the shadows at the end of the bar, pretending to be a vampire. Of all the people she might choose, his disappointment in the last instant of his life in discovering the drab reality of his fantasy, finding in the end only a plain looking girl in simple clothes bending over him; his disillusionment, if not revelation, would be delicious.

I dunno.

I just want to write well. There will be times like this when I’m not sure of myself or what I’m living for or what I’m doing, but there will always be the challenge and beauty of language, and the struggle to master language like a musician mastering his instrument. There’s so much out there I want to learn. And why not? If God or genetics gave you something you can do pretty well, why wouldn’t you do it?

When I’ve got something to write, I write. The rest of the time I’m learning to write. This is what keeps me from burning out. These last couple days I’ve been archiving all my past blogs here at OGG, in case I might ever want them for anything, especially since a few of them of turned out to be half way viable short stories. The problem I have always had from the very beginning of my stint here is that most of the themes are subjects I’ve never much thought about and never had much to say about. So how to write about them? I decided early on, since my opinions on most subjects are pretty limited if not more than a little weird, I would take advantage of my presence here with experienced writers to experiment with language and presentation, and as much as possible to make that my goal. My latest experiment has been playing around with a creative technique that is indirectly connected with my interest in tarot cards. I call it “found” writing.

For a person who has lost his faith in God, tarot cards imply a certain kind of faith in divine guidance that I have a hard time believing in. Yet, like most people, there is this longing for a wiser source of information outside of myself. For a fresh view. Tarot cards represent a form of what I think of as “found” knowledge. If you ask a question and set out the cards, it almost doesn’t matter what cards turn up or in what order. What you’re trying to do is give the unconscious a vocabulary with which to speak. By choosing images at random and setting them in distinct relationships with each other, you are forcing your natural homo sapiens instinct to search out meaning and pattern and conjure up an intelligible idea from randomly assembled elements. In this way, your unconscious can use the image combinations to say what it wants to tell you anyway, but hasn’t had the images to express. In the past I have found stories in this way. Here’s how.

A couple of weeks ago I presented a story here called “Miss Mercy” on the week when the theme was “food and sex”, and it seemed to have gone over okay. Here’s where the story came from. Real world, I have no experiences with food and sex. Food and my nominal sex life have simply never crossed paths. So using only what is available, I just don’t have anything to say on that subject, but Wednesday is coming. What to do? I had been reading an anthology called “Alien Sex” and there was a short story called “Oral” by Richard Christian Matheson, son of Richard Matheson, one of my literary heroes and influences. “Oral” basically gives a first person, present point of view describing a person drinking a glass of water. But it gave me an idea for an interesting experiment, a creative challenge, to tell a story of physical sensations completely in dialogue without narration. I had never read a story like this, and it seemed like fun. So I tried my best, such as it is. The title came from an article about groupies written by Frank Zappa a long time ago. One of the groupies was a girl the guys called “Miss Mercy”. I stumbled into these little tarot cards in my environment, picked them up and arranged them into something.

When I’m in practicing mode, I consult a book on writing practice called “A Writers Book of Days” by Judith Reeves. It gives you these little themes or phrases, one for each day of the year and you just jump off of the phrase and go with it. This is also good discipline, because it forces you to learn flexibility. Like compositional Yoga. You can liken it to being a musician in a band that jams a lot, and the lead guy creates this riff and then tosses it to you and you play your solo off it.

Flipping through to today’s date, I find today’s topic for practice is the phrase “avenues of escape”. So that’s tarot card number two, the first tarot card being the pastiche riff on F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Let’s mess with it.

So, Fitzgerald’s line is “Amory had decided definitely on Princeton, even though he would be the only boy entering from St Regis.” That plus "avenues of escape".

Which becomes:

Nixie had decided definitely on the young Goth man standing at the bar, because he was self consciously dressed in imitation of a vampire. In her many years, she had almost never met a vampire other than herself, and was sure such a person would never advertise any more than would a wolf among sheep.

At a table someone had left a half finished bottle of Becks. She picked it up and padded quietly behind the man and set the bottle down next to him with a sharp rap on the wood of the bar top. Startled, the man turned to look, and for a moment she caught his eye. “I’ve been watching you,” she said. “So I’m thinking, you know, why does he dress so dark and sad like this? Are you Hamlet? Are you sad?”

“Where‘re you from?” said the man.

She noticed, with a small wave of disgust, he had rouged his lips bright scarlet and darkened his eyes with kohl. “Bavaria.”

“That’s where Hitler’s from, right?”

Her eyes flashed. “No. It is not right.” She smiled, showing teeth. “So then, why do you dress like that? Do you think you look very interesting that way?”

“You must think I look interesting.”

Jah, you know, I think you’ve the most interesting man here. So why do you hide your beauty?”

“Because I love death.”

“Oh. So. That's it, then. You love death. Does death love you?”

“What?”

“Why do you love death?”

“Because this world is ugly. I want to escape from it. I think death is where peace and beauty lie. The real world lies beyond. We’ll escape from this world into pure freedom of spirit.”

“So with death, we can escape and fly away,” she gestured, waggling her fingertips, “from this wicked, wicked world.”

“Yes.”

She pretended to take a swig of beer and set the bottle down. She leaned in close, covering the distance between them and reached under the crotch of his black silk dress pants. She caressed him there, felt him swell, saw his eyes become hard. She nodded her head towards the back door. “Come with me. You who love death. I’ll show you something beautiful. Something you have never seen. Come.” She stepped away, and waited. The man took a step towards her. “Let’s get out of this place, let’s be alone together. Come with me, because I am your fate. I’m the goddess of fate. Run away with me.” She held open the back door and the young man stepped through into the dark, deserted parking lot.

And so it goes. Found stuff.

I have to find ways to challenge myself, pick up random elements and dare myself to make them into something. That keeps me from burning out, even if things inside me seem to be burning down.



Of all the stupid fucks sitting at laptops in the Starbucks, Nixie choose the oldish man with the beard because he smelled funny and walked funny and looked lonesome and needy and could be lured outside to an easy kill, and she didn’t feel like working that hard tonight anyway. She padded quietly up behind him and

She padded quietly up

No

She padded up

No

She padded up quietly

Hmnn.

up quietly

quietly up

up quietly

She padded up quietly behind him and slapped him soundly upside the head.

“So what it is you're writing now, shiesekopf, why are you still doing this?”

“Because 'I love death'? ”

“Oh shut up.”




C. Sanchez-Garcia

4 comments:

  1. Hi Garce,

    great post.

    I admire the passion that you pursue writing with. The exercises you described are a great idea, especially on those days when I want to write something but not the stories I've already started.

    "Alien Sex" is a classic anthology. I thought it was out of print.

    I liked the reference to Tarot Cards. I used to read the Tarot and read palms when I was at university. I found they helped me to focus on the person in front of me and create the story they believed in. I hadn't thought of applying it to writing but it's a great idea.

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  2. Dear Garce,

    You think too much. Of course, I don't have to tell you this because you know this already. However, I'm not at all convinced (unlike Mike) that exercises like the one you've attempted to explain are all that useful. No one can tell you how to write, or what to write. ALL writing is "found", in the sense that you mean the term, exploding (or perhaps, timidly tiptoeing) out of the unconscious and onto the page.

    But indeed, your results, however you achieve them, are worth sharing.

    Hugs,
    Lisabet

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  3. Hi Mike!

    I've been snacking on Alien Sex off and on for a writing project i was working on and still thinking about. Today I went to a used bookstore and found a used copy of "The Second Gates of Paradise", an erotica series by great writers. Volume one was great, i hadn;t even known there was a volume two.

    I tried reading palms once a long time ago and took it pretty seriously. Now I've forgotten everything, but i'm really into the cards. Sometimes you just need to find a way to bust out.

    Garce

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  4. Hi Lisabet! So good to have you back. Things to catch up on like alien sex. Everybody has to find their way, but I like writing exercises. It keeps me involved between ideas and I think that's important for me. Of course you know the whole cockamamie asymetric way i compose stories anyway and I wouldn;t wish my methods on anyone.

    Welcome back!

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