Monday, June 15th, 2009
We’ve hit the 25th day of 100 Days, which has been relentless work. I’m curious to know how other people are working, what they’re working with, how they’re working through problems, and what their “workbenches” look like.
Day 25 for me saw a return to Computer Leon, who persists for me as a fun and comedic character. He could get into all kinds of interesting problems. One of the items I’ve realized is that I don’t want to leave Pelgram and The Rabbit stories alone for long. But returning to these characters and their narrative implications requires distance as they really don’t taste of serialization.
I still have a lot to think about with experiments. But a major insight I’ve had about my own writing is that 1) I work with internal voices in two ways: I listen for narrators and for how characters sound and 2) following 1) I listen for how structure and plot emerges from the language and 3) I try to feel out action and event from the ideas I’m interested in.
Stylistically, I’m aiming for story language that conveys as much with as little as possible but, hopefully, doesn’t restrict for restrictions own sake, a language that keeps cutting away at the slab, the stone, or digging at the dirt for that unlikely or unknown nugget. That might be key, and is something I look for in my colleagues’ work. I’ve discovered a number of things: Leon, Pelgram, and all the other hes and shes that have emerged, and would never have emerged, without these stories. This is significant: withal, I’ve uncovered new voices, new places, new people, more ideas to consider.
For example, Cruz in The Mirror was a nice find for me, but he didn’t become a find until Maricela ends the story with a statement about Cruz: “The Cruz that not even I, and you, can escape.” The story progressed in fairly linear fashion. Cruz gets an idea about mirrors, Maricela just happens to be his girlfriend, and he follows his line to a point and the notion is closed by Maricela. But she throws an idea into the mix that made me think about future issues with Cruz, who sounds somewhat focused/obsessed and interested in mysteries. Maricela, who is the same Maricela of Weeping Bird, can’t escape Cruz. What does this mean? And how did Maricela get from an island in danger of attack, and out of a TV program, to Cruz? Cruz must be pretty interesting to attract an ex-special forces, bisexual bird-woman.
I could spend the next 75 days following each of the characters in these stories. I could also write the next 75 stories in one of several rooms or with a hat on or with a ribbon tied around my pinky finger. The point is not to plan on anything. For example, at this moment, I’m thinking about the Oedipus myth and how that might be fun to play with. And what if Computer Leon decides to reprogram his mobile phone? Is Pelgram in Shantou? Or is he that smoker smoking in the dark near a coffee shop on Carlisle?