Saturday, November 03, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Day 3 outtakes

OK, I'm having a bit of trouble making the leap to fiction. And it is frustrating. I used to regularly write fiction bits and pieces. Short stories, a handful of book-length pieces, poetry and such. Today I tried starting with a true piece of my past to see if I could make the leap. The last couple days it seemed to help ... but I think I need to step out on a limb and just start writing truly crazy, ridiculous stuff and see what happens. I'm listening to Prairie Home Companion this afternoon*, where Guy Noir and so many other tales make me chuckle, and they're filled with old-fashioned, over-the-top craziness that's just so out there it works. I'm thinking I need to venture that way, venture outside the comfort zone. Because I think I'm having trouble "letting go" with the storyline and characters. Worried whether I'm just biographing or telling someone else's story, and worried that I'll hit a little too close to home for comfort. So I think that perhaps rather than starting with the known, I need to start with the unknown and incorporate the known in small elements, otherwise ... well ... it's a bit of a rut.

So there might be two entries today, as today's effort to blend true touch points into fiction just fizzled. But mind you, I might take back everything I just said tomorrow. Tis my perogative. So there.

Today's excerpt:

Driving through Aberdeen’s main drag, most visitors leave feeling empty. They leave feeling like they’re watching a car wreck … like they shouldn’t look, but they can’t help but gawk and stare, can’t help telling their friends about the wreckage they saw. And the myth continues to spread. What they do not realize, is that this former logging town has the unfortunate curse of its dirty laundry being aired for all to see, all to hear. The gray, wet, gritty town with the storied dying lumber town history didn’t get any better of a reputation when Nirvana's lead singer killed himself. People began to visit to taste the nostalgia and discovered that the banks of the Wishkah really are muddy. And they witnessed a downtown handicapped by years of circumstance.

But the heart of this former “Lumber Capital of the World” beats on. For those who venture past the deteriorating façade, the beat is thunderous. Strong, mighty, passionate. The spirit that made Aberdeen an early 20th century legend and a center of culture as fought for its place on the map, and it continues to foster pride and history and pluck.

And now, for attempt two. I have lots more words to go.

*Garrison Keillor is my literary hero, whom I had the pleasure of meeting briefly in a book signing line three years ago, where I found him to be much chattier than I expected with a line out the door. When he asked, "So, what do you do?" ... I realized I really didn't know what to say. Saying 'I'm a writer" to Garrison Keillor -- my personal rock star of a writer -- was a little intimidating. And it's part of why I will stubbornly write my 50,000 words. I want get that certain "something" back that made me want to be a writer. And I know most of it is simply that I'm out of practice. So here's to practice making, well, not perfect, but at least presentable ...



You can do far better for a literary hero than Keillor, in my opinion. It isn't that I dislike him, but his style seems uninspired to me. He is to homespun humor what Stephen King is to scary stories... a one-trick pony. What he does he does a decent job of, but he just doesn't stand out as a literary hero to me.

Good luck with the novel writing. My plans for the summer (assuming I'm offered a contract extension to teach at the same place next year) is to finish at least one of my half-written novels. Though I have to say whenever I think of the process I am reminded of the "Novel Writing" sketch from Monty Python, and that usually serves to distract me for 15 minutes or so.

tacomachickadee said...

I'll admit most of my obsession is nostalgia: I've been listening to him since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. But I admire the fact that he's been able to do so much for so long. Perhaps it's the multimedia aspect that intrigues me? Who knows. :)