Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cut Roses

A rose sits in its water on my desk. Pale yellow with juvenile thorns pointing slightly downward. It may die at any minute. In fact, as I pull back the petals to see the dying buds it hides, the petals fall to the desktop. Unsurprisingly. They reflect in the coffee cup that steams at 1127p. Can I write tonight?

I have been keeping away from this blog. Have been looking for a job for a long time. If I blog, that is time I could have spent seeking employment. Need to be employed to pay support costs for children. For ex-wife. Need to be employed. Can't quite factor how to turn the art that I make into sustenance.

Everything is connected today. Twitter feed to Google+ to Facebook to Tumblr to Yahoo! to Find My Phone to YouTube to my resume to my application. I'm not going to say how I feel right now. It's a knot in my throat. Don't pull on the knot.

I feel that I have done too much in too many fields. I have not kept to a course. You have heard of the concept of 10000 hours to mastery of a skill. How many skills do I have 9000 hours in?

This book. I began to see Part 2 for what it was today. I spent about an hour, before an interview, looking deeply into the eyes of Part 2. It will be uphill. The outline seems so disjointed and un-narrative. This morning I turned the combinable bullets into globules and wrote them on index cards. Tomorrow I'll review them, order them. See the gaps. Feel the flow.

Tomorrow.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

WWFS

What would Faulkner say about me getting a new job?

It appears that I'll be starting work at a company in the south bay shortly. Ultimately, for the novel, this is a good thing. I will be freed from the incessant, nagging need to spend time on LinkedIn. Or will I?

I recently spent some time rethinking the issues surrounding the parts (1-3) and how I was going to start part 2. And furthermore, I began to think shorter. The length of part 1 is obscene. Once I have finished the plan for end of part 1, I had run out of things for the boy to do. There was nothing to lead him into the next part. It was wrapped.

So I made a copy of Lucky Dog and put the old one away. Then I chopped part 1 off where I was and sucked out everything about Garland Warne and put it into part 2.

It as a coup. Coup des doigts. Coup de trackpad. It's going to work.

The boy has plenty to do and it is becoming obvious how to engage him with GW. A shift.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

1/3 Done

400pp down. One third done.

Yesterday, I finished editing the strangest, most mystical writing I have ever done. A boy in the cave of his mind. Never sure if what he is seeing is real. If he is in or out of the cave. What is the cave?

For the past five months I have put the manuscript aside. I have been searching full time for a job. A job that will take me away from this book again.

This weekend I realized that I have to keep moving forward. Not in lieu of searching for a job, but in parallel. This book takes a lot out of me. There is a great deal to organize. A parallel universe to life breathe into. Cultures to design. Inventions to imply. Destinies to disrupt.

Waiting for the interview
This book is about life. So much of life is not about life.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

TEXT: The Patents


He had been a student for most of his life. When the time came to make money, he had lived too long without it. Had seen too much of the world for free. Had loved too many people who had never wondered what he could do or how much money he could make. He observed that the university was a great caste system eraser in which an heiress can fall in love with the son of a bitch who milks the cows she passes in her parents' limousine on the way to the beach. But she falls in love with the student for his hair and his smile. She loves him although he leaves her for days, binge-ing with his crass comrades. The student loves her, but wants to impress her with some knowledge of polite culture that he overheard and pretends to know. But the foreshadow always fell across their faces as spring time led to graduation. The fights and bitter feelings. Dread, the bitterest of all. 

As a student, her father had had an heiress himself. However, this heiress had no interest in her money, was disdainful of and disconnected from her family, and never wanted to be a patroness of anyone, much less herself. They stayed together following graduation for longer than most. They spent their togetherness in Evanston, Illinois, while he finished his PhD at Northwestern. She bought the house on Wilder Street. He filled it with ideas and she filled it with people. She owned the living room. He owned the basement. Neither of them could cook. She wouldn't let them. 

Friends fed them. 

For term vacations, they visited her family's homes in Mexico. Winter in D.F. Summer in the renovated water works outside San Augustin de Etla. They liked trips to her auntie's in Juchitan, though the bus ride was long. It was where they met Manuel Bravo. 

It wasn't until the patents started to accumulate that the foreshadow fell across her mother's face. She liked being his conduit to society and privilege, even though she had despised both. But she got caught up in the costume of the Mexican rich girl. That's what happens in Mexico. The call of long time paths and roles is too strong to resist. And there is nowhere sweeter in which to put on that costume and flaunt its fur collar than in the cool mornings and warm evenings of Mexico, in the valley, between the mountains. 


When the patents came, she had lost most of her hold over him. Or so she thought. Had she only asked. Or looked at the way he looked at her. Manuel Bravo saw it. He placed her behind and off to the right of the camera when he took father's picture, and he waited. Then he left the viewfinder and kissed her. When he came back, her mother stared into her father's eyes and emitted a small smile. That was the face he captured. The reaction to that small smile beaming at him. Her father told Adara the half-life of the smile was short. 

When the patents came, father saw their impact on her. He had no use for the patents. He had everything he wanted in her mother and in the life of a student and in their mostly occupied home not far from the lake. When the patents came, he boxed them.

When the patents came, that was when her mother left.

She wondered what the patents were for. She hoped they were for some of the things in their little house. She wanted him to have credit for the things he had made for them. She wanted the world to know him for his inventions. She wanted to find that box. She would ask him to help her find it. She would pray at his altar. What a funny thought. Pray to the atheist. Atheist in the closet.

Friday, April 20, 2012

What is a Novel?

Own the novel form. Commit to owning it. Remove from your mind that you might be naturally adept at writing novels. Make yourself a writer. Do it now. What have you been doing to date? This is the question that came to me as I stood over my not so Ozymandian works.

Where is your higher standard? The ethic? The process? The drive?

Where were these elements in your filmmaking? Nowhere. My process in filmmaking was to capture natural accidents and to edit them into a cohesion. Where is the rigor in that?

Rigor and discipline, something my work has lacked for some time.

What is a Novel?

When I say novel, I mean a great novel.

  • Subtlety of narration
  • Attractive foundation characters
  • Mystery, suspense (Aristotle disagrees)
  • Power (withheld or wielded)
  • Natural detail (semblance of reality)
  • Structure that frames the story and adds to the narration
  • A mastery of the language within which the novel is written
These are attributes, but what of the story? Am I giving up to say that there are no rules governing story? I don't think so. But it seems you are still short of attributes necessary to create a guideline.

Somehow the subtlety of the narration implies ability to engage and draw in the reader.

This is the critical aspect as I see it.

And is language the extent of the skill required? Surely not. Word choice. Elision. Reference. Echoes.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

One fifth done


Broke the 20,000 word barrier today. One fifth done with first rough draft.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

TEXT: The Apartment


A still coat of grey hung in the air even after the rain had stopped. The clouds roiled over the mountain rims like an ocean above her. It would have been a bad day for one of her father's experiments. "Today we drew a bye, Adara," he said on the most overcast days. Over her last steps to the compound, birds speckled the air with their chittering. It seemed like they were happy, but the interpretation, she knew, was two-sided. Happy and agitated were close cousins and it didn't take much to go from one to the other in either direction.

She swung open the heavy iron gate and it crunched into the wet ivy. The stones were topped off with little puddles. She let herself want her father to be there when she walked back to their apartment window. Where they had lived together last. As she came to the wide, thick window, Adara turned slowly and gradually. No false moves, he would say.

The altar she was building would not bring him back. Nothing could. But it might help to immerse her fully in this feeling. This feeling that he was home. That they were going to be together. That they could talk and laugh and argue the big ideas. She felt she was going soft, with no one to talk to but the boy.

She had decided when he died that she should not go to college. She had gotten substantial assistance for a program in English at the University of Chicago. The money had come from a local benefactor, probably the old man. She had known nothing about Chicago, except that it was very cold due to the fact that it was nearly at the Arctic Circle. Her father had wanted her to go. She wanted to study at University of Texas, but when he died, she had lost her direction. She postponed the acceptance to Chicago. She never activated it. She was sure it was too late now.

The lock turned grittily around the oversized key until it reached the contacts; inside the house, the vacuum jet fresheners did their work quickly, drawing up fresh heat from the minor floor and clearing out the cell of stagnant air from the afternoon. She smelled the hint of citrus as she put down her bags. He had thought of everything probably.

She put her bags down on the high table in the entry to hang up her wet coat and take off her shoes. Returning over the electro-magnetic guides in the floor, the door gently clicked shut. The warm floor had a cushioned feel, but the give under the heavy teak had a purpose. Fluctuation in the height of the floor caused by two people during a normal day—as well as side to side movements—were collected by the absorption mechanisms underneath it and translated into usable potential energy and electricity. Enough to power the enhanced simple machines like the door-closer and the phosphorous glow around the edge of the floor throughout the house. Walking wound the clocks. Opening doors pumped water. At the end of the night, the floor vibrated its own dust into traps, cleaning itself. Yet, as one person, and mostly at the old man's place with the boy, she didn't generate enough house-captured energy to do much more than shut the door.

There were five large plastic bags filled with dried, orange cempasúchil marigolds. She lifted out a long strand. Sra Mendez knew how her father wanted them to be: medium sized flowers with the petals bent backward toward the stem and dried. To Adara, they looked better that way, but her father knew that this treatment meant easier cleanup. The flowers stayed together longer. Would five bags be wasteful? She had wanted to make it lush for her father. To embarrass him slightly with modest accolades. Sra Mendez laughed when Adara placed her order. She had been making them for their altars to her mother since he came to San Cristobal, but had never delivered more than two bags.

She made a small meal of cheese and eggs and tortillas. There was a bit of aging tomatillo salsa. Small leftover glass of rioja. She plugged in the old radio and set it on the kitchen counter. It warmed up quickly and tuned well. The dial felt solid. A soft wave of noise gave way to an accordion and a trumpet. She sat and ate in the dim light of the stove and the warm glow of her father. It was good to meditate like this before building the altar, she thought.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

TEXT: Adara Remembers


Friday: market day at Conzatti. Woven shopping bags pink and orange and blue and green. Summer in Oaxaca City.

Ten minutes to get from the hill streets of San Felipe, past Avenida Niños Heroes, to the zocalo. Porfirio Diaz was a southbound street, one magnetic rail flush with the ancient green cantera flagstones. Braking energy collected downhill was saved for the uphill climb on the other end of the city to the top of San Felipe del Agua. Past la Iglesia de la Soledad. The street car's transparent cowling was sun-warm, but the soft white noise of the blending fans kept everyone on the inside calm and cool and the random jingling of the bells kept everyone happy. Each streetcar has 126 silver bells in its grate floor. Each time the streetcar opened its doors it sounded like it was taking a huge breath. Cool air stayed in. Warm air gently enswirled the passenger as they stepped outside.

Through the tranvía's gaped mouth a grandma was exhaled gently onto the smooth concrete platform. WIth just a hint of electro-static to momentarily repel airborne allergens. He liked to add little extras that made people trust his inventions. People trust things that protect them. Trust promotes adoption and loyalty.

Silent pulsing pinholes in the platform's stainless steel perimeter agitated the dust from new passengers as they arrived from the market. The tranvía-driven magneto vacuum drew down the dust from their feet and their rolling aluminum market baskets into the negatively charged stream of water that cut under the station.

A rose bush adhering to the stream of water. Branches radiating, roots polarized to grow in the shape of the stair-step Mitla band.

It was a beautiful plan for a beautiful city. She folded the old black portfolio's leather flap over the drawings and wound the thin paper cord in a figure eight to seal it.

TEXT: Fear of the Golem


Shaved. The way he liked his ice. Flavored with coconut.

It wouldn't be long now until dawn. He had been afraid and had found a triangle of wood to wedge under his door before the night went black. The sun would come up any moment now. He had been able to keep his back against the inside wall of his room all night. But now, the door was open and he rested his hands on the top of the rough concrete wall. He looked over the courtyard and had a clear view of any comers. Long tailed crows called to each other in the old tree next door.

The morning heat bowed his head. His hair was sweat-moist. His skin stuck to itself. He was disoriented. It felt so early and so late at the same time. The heat was confusing. It seemed like it should be cold, but Adara told him that the mountains held the heat, like a bowl. From the courtyard wall he could see a dog stretching its hind legs on a roof a block away. The dog looked at him and then lay down out of sight.

His father had been the one who put the idea of the Golem in his head in the first place. He had read him a jewish story about the Golem of Prague. A long time ago, before World War II, a rabbi and his assistants in Europe researched ancient texts. They went to the river in secret one night and scooped clay from the riverbed, forming it into the shape of a large body. They walked around the body and prayed. They were given the power to make life: a huge man made of clay. That night, they turned his clay flesh into real flesh. And the wise rabbi put a secret word on his head that kept the clay man, named Josef, alive. The word was a sort of plug that kept the unnatural life in him. Without it, life would drain away. The rabbi and his assistants used the golem as a bodyguard to protect the oppressed jewish people of Prague. One thing they used to do to jewish people was pretend that they had sacrificed young children for their blood. They said it was used in certain jewish rituals. Whether it was or not, his father would not tell him. But the people who feared the jewish people tried to make excuses to kill them and one way was this sacrificing innocent kids for their blood story. Thus the rabbi wanted to create the bodyguard to protect his people.

So, he created a sort of monster to do it. The golem was strong, but kind of stupid. He did whatever his jewish masters told him to do, but he understood things in a simple, literal way. When the rabbi's wife told Josef to bring water to her house, she didn't tell him to bring only as much as she needed. Josef kept bringing more and more water until it nearly filled the house. There was later a Disney movie about this same problem. Once they knew that Josef was simple, it was easier to get what they wanted out of him. But there was one part that they didn't expect.

His father explained that Josef knew that he had been created to save the jewish people, and this made the golem proud to be alive. He worked hard to learn to speak, to fit in. But starting with the water bucket incident, Josef began to realize that he was being used. That, at some point, he would help the jewish folks become more powerful than the others. And then what? Would they pull the plug on him and let him drain away? Or would they continue to use him to enforce their power? This trouble in the head of the golem created pain. When he was told to attack a butcher who had planted a dead girl in the jewish ghetto, he went on a rampage. He was at war with himself. He slaughtered the butcher and his brothers and hung them up with their meats. He walked through the streets of Prague covered in their blood. Walked back to the ghetto. His thick hands throbbing with anger.

At another time, Josef was captured while sleeping and put in a well by some bandits. He was kept there for a weekend while the men tried to think of how to kill him. In a way, it was impossible to kill Josef, but in another way very easy. After thinking about what to do, Josef began to howl like a dog. He had seen dogs annoy people and get attention. Nobody wanted a dog in their well. The townspeople got to Josef before the bandits came back. "What do you want?" they asked. "Find the rabbi," he said. When the bandits returned, they saw there was a big commotion at the well and they fled. When the rabbi arrived, he made up an excuse for the townspeople. But, the golem had wished he would have called him his son. "Why have you called me here?" the rabbi asked the desperate golem. "For your blessings, sir. I fear I am going to die down here and wish you to bless me," said the golem. "What are you doing down there?" the rabbi asked. A person from the town told him, "He is drunk. He has been yowling like a dog at the bottom of our well all day long. Get him out of here. He has probably defecated in our well and we will have to dig a new one. Will your people dig it for us? Or must we clean up after your kind?" The rabbi was horribly embarrassed. "He is not a part of my temple. He is so drunk he believes I have responsibility for him." The rabbi feared for his life so he said, "Let him rot there and I will build you a new well." He walked home with his head up. That night he came back with a large rope and a long knife. "Tie the rope around your neck and use your hands and feet to climb the walls. We will pull you," he said. "Father, father," the golem cried. "The walls are mossy and too slick to climb. I have tried and I am tired." "Take the knife, then," said the rabbi as he dropped it down. The knife missed the golem, but fell into the knee deep water. The well was too narrow for the golem to bend over to pick up the knife. He tried to crouch, but could not. He began to cry. "Quiet, you imbecile," said the rabbi, who was afraid the townspeople would hear him again. The cry was a low wail. "I'm sorry I had to leave you," said the rabbi. "Now we'll get you out of here." He fashioned a noose out of one end of the rope. It slipped over Josef's head on the way back down. "Do your best," added one assistant as they all pulled from above. Once they had lifted Josef out of the well, his neck was permanently longer and tilted to one side. But he was out. Later, Josef dug another well for the townspeople. He found one of the bandits and put the dead body in the same well he had be imprisoned in.

In San Cristobal they sold paletas of coconut on a stick. Beige colored. Tinkle bells on square, refrigerated cart. But that wasn't shaved ice. It was more like a popsicle.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

TEXT: A Boy in Panama


A boy a boy a boy on boy in the midst of puddle scum and poverty the dear one a son a son the sun the one they cried when he arrived a son a boy a boy his father held him high days later wanted to shriek to scream A BOY! Though a girl would have been super but a boy like me he thought could find happiness I didn’t find and I could show him could guide him past my mistakes he thought that the father a man just a man, a boy no longer, a man who left the boy this boy a boy and his mother but dreamed to come back and take the boy, take him under his arm when the time would come and his work would pay and his wife the boy’s mother would forgive him but why would she forgive him when he strayed over and over and over and she held the boy while he took his whores and came back late or not at all and drink and the smell of their legs on the back of his neck where hers had been a boy he had been a boy a boy and she had been a girl had she ever been a girl like he had been a boy no but this boy, just one boy, could be different could find love and be loved could give love and see things that other boys and his father, a bastard, could or would not see could or would not know could or would not learn to the point that it was lost to them forever this boy just a simple boy could and would learn these things and turn about the tide of hate and deception and fear and crushing crushing self-doubts that lead to the cruel self-flagellation self-fellation of whores and the tiny operations that are carried out against a wife by her husband and countered by the wife in long campaigns and guerilla pot shots hit and run psyop hearts and minds that he a boy watches stretches to see his father, without releasing his mother’s nipple, twisting to see the two parties struggle and dance and make up and part with both eyes instead of the corner of one boy a boy this boy plays in the dark tarnished golden sunset a boy playing, a hope that La Navidad will bring a change his father’s novia to laugh and spend time on him and comb his hair with her painted pink nails and whisper into his rubber ears pulling holding his fat lobes and whispering as she must with his father her hot breath into his ear a hot knife into his brain how educado you are my boy I want to be your mami too two mamis his head leaning nestling his ear and lobes like a mouth to suck her new milkless breasts and feel the hot plump young push of the curving caring factories of sex or the electrical thing in his spine that must be sex because he feels the shame of it under his mother’s eyes and rough scrub on face and neck to clean away the flower scent and dark red lips the whore the whore my son just a boy a boy it will be rough but worth it the boy thinks in tarnished sunset just a boy I am my son his father thinks my boy his mother waves to a boy her boy she thinks as he plays on the game field the commons the dusty shared grass and looks up once to mami and grins and waves twice eyes linger on her thinking and warm air her dress flapping like a flag.

A police car passes the boy, its megaphone echoes on wall and hillside, later, from near and away.

It echoes in his head, mami mami mami.

TEXT: Dog god


Sorry is never sorry enough.

The dog's eyes rose to meet the drooping sunset.

In his bed of pine needles, his sleeping maid, wet with laying, stretched flanks pulling the skin taut across her ribs. His strong mastiff head dipped to smell her ass.

His evening's work—what is the word for the work of a god? His evening's miracles awaited him. The dog arched his cream-colored back and bowed to the valley below him. A smell of cooler winds blew up from the pueblo. He pulled it deep into the back of his throat. His night was rendered in scent. What he must do. What was left to do.

His tongue hung out of his smiling maw. Have you ever felt like you could lift the Earth with your back? Bark down the Sun? Crush the femurs of guilty men with your jaws? His maid slipped her head under his set chin. She smelled the miracles to be done. What was left to do.

She lapped drily at the blood matted in his downy neck fur. Sucking, chewing, cleaning.

He gave a light-hearted laugh as he broke away. Why should he care about mercy? Why did she? The Cross. The Cross told him all that he needed to know.

He loped to the head of the sky's trail to the earth. He was high above the rim of the hills ringing the Holy Land. His thighs hummed with the ache of sex. The drone filled his body. Jaguar Jaguar he breathed his rhythm (forgive him, Oh Lord!) as he ran down the colina to the earth. His lungs drew the wind up the hill. His whiskers combed through branches of pine needles. His decent, a silent, smothering waterfall.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Chunks of narration

Thinking through things tonight. Almost 4 now. I started looking at one char at a time. The story from one char's strain. A section should belong to one character. It will keep things sane. I can walk through the idea now and see what is missing. What logic is invisible. What steps are out of order. And when a gap in time is just as good as a new hunk of narration.