November 18th, 2012

I listen

Quiet and lazy on a Sunday

Sunday, when the morning is just longer, isn't it?

Portland today is blanketed, with a blanket of clouds that, unlike most blankets, don't really keep us warm. I've been home, I've been thinking, I've kept from being bored. Even walked kind of jaunty-style around the apartment this morning, but I haven't been motivated to cover more ground than that.

Feeling less jaunty after my first viewing of the film version of No Country For Old Men, but you'd be surprised if I felt jaunty after seeing that, right? (Yes, I watched that instead of football. I realized how spun-up and tense I got last night with the Oregon Ducks-Stanford Cardinal game, so I figured I'd disengage from the game for a bit and feel the feels about something else.) If nothing else, the film sure makes me glad no one in my life is after me with weapons. Anyway. I'll likely try watching it again.

Another thing on my mind (other than my scalp) is the ever-effort to be funny. Or at least clever and witty. I recently re-realized that it bothers me a bit if I go to too obvious a joke. But at times the bane of my social existence is the response "What?," because I'm too obscure. I'm better at saying "BNever mind" or "Bad joke" and moving on from that, because I can try again to be clever later. But even when I've made someone laugh, I'll start analyzing, and sometimes I decide Wait! What I said doesn't actually make any sense! Heck of an internal editor. Plus, honestly, I'm trying to speak less, anyway, and have what I say count more.

Shorter version: I'm feeling a little boring because I'm not always as clever as I'd like. But I'm still ahead of this guy:

xkcd superlative

Does it make sense? I don't know yet.

Lots of you are doing National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo -- and is that pronounced nah-no-RYE-mo or nah-no-REE-mo?). I'm not. Twice before, I've started it; the result is two stories, neither finished. Yet. One of them, the more recent one ("Planet of Sound"), is likely a shorter-than-a-novel idea, if I ever look back at it and try to finish it; the other is what I started in fall 2002, "The Idiot Plot."

I'm re-reading it. And also using the handy-dandy strikethrough option, where you cross out words (like this), because I'm in the mood to edit. Stephen King got this formula from an editor who'd rejected one of his short stories: "Second Draft = First Draft - 10%." I'm headed in that direction, and also re-familiarizing myself with what I'd started writing, oh, ten years ago. I'm seeing little in-jokes and personal references; one paragraph was inspired by something my late friend Mike Pearl would do. And I will see where I can take the story from here.

I want this finished. And maybe with a different title; one that's stayed in my mind is "Foursquare For Chaos," which is a Harlan Ellison phrase. ("The Idiot Plot" is science fiction author James Blish's idea: a story that only works if every character in the story is an idiot.) The point is, I can finish this; I should. The story's frequently terrible, but (for instance) so was the script Mike Rich wrote before he wrote Finding Forrester. But even terrible writing can have worthwhile flashes.

At least I hope (ah, that classic creator's insecurity; I can have that in spades). Early on, the character of Carol (at least that's her name so far) starts to think of breaking up with her boyfriend (currently called) Rod. This came out of me.

And she thought back on their relationship: it had been a series of aftermaths, a situation to be cleaned up followed by another to be cleaned up, and another, and another. Rod moved through life with the subtlety of a wrecking ball, and the low-grade amusement she got from insulting and abusing him had been her way of distancing herself from that.

I'll see how far Carol progressed past that. And how does it end? Science fiction-ly, because that's where my mind goes. Without going into details, once idea I had sometime in 2003 or 2004 for this story was tying in the story in a science fictional, Matrix-y way to 9/11. I've had enough time to realize it's a stupid, maybe insulting idea (but! It seemed clever at the time). Plus I know several more New Yorkers now than I did then. I hope I come up with something better. Or that I come up with something.