LAZY SUNDAY AFTERNOON
My muse was ducking me today. I think I wrote five paragraphs in two hours or something. Not good. I am working on a section of The Everlasting where we meet our male villain, Thaddeus Prince. He is actually an old character of mine from a novel I started in 11th Grade called The Other Side of the Street (which, those of you who read the character bios in the false front of the site will know is now one of Percy’s books). In fact, Lance and Ashley are both also carryovers from that book. Originally, Thad was an opium-den poet (the Prince name being a nod to Machiavelli; the character itself inspired by a junkie in the 1945 film of The Picture of Dorian Gray, which I viewed regularly at the time), now he is a rock star; Lance was a country boy who had come to the city for the first time; Ashley was a debutante, but is now just a bitch (to be blunt) and in public relations. Things morph—but since characters (and people) are always “types,” I find much can be transferred.
The Other Side of the Street was a faux-Fitzgerald knock-off. I was 16 and lazy, and I didn’t want to research, so I thought I could fake my way around things by setting it in the prohibition era, but by not saying it was in that time, I could say it wasn’t really. I think I handwrote somewhere over a hundred pages of it, which I likely still have. I doubt I could read it, though, as I can barely ever read my own handwriting. (Michigan schools taught me to hold my pen in a big fist, and I could never get out of it.) Its central metaphor was a tree on Lance’s farm that had a heart-shaped nest in its branches. When he left the tree, he left himself, and the end of the book had him returning to it and dying hugging its roots. Lance also has a shameful history as a superhero that predates this book, as a member of a group my friend and I created when we were around 10 or 11. His name was Cur. I know there is a briefcase in storage at my dad’s house that has many of my younger delusions, and I bet you there is stuff about Cur in there.
All that stuff is gone now. Beyond the base characters, though, I think the only element that remains is Lance’s journal. I don’t recall using any of the character’s writing in the first book, but I remember a section about him keeping one. One of the voices used in The Everlasting is Lance’s journal. I have basically three narrative voices in the book, all intended to serve different purposes (though the lines blur). I would explain them, but it would get pretentious. Plus, I am wary of explaining too much.
To look further into the development of characters and stories in general, I direct you to “In Your Car” and “Wishing for an Edge of the World” in the Short Story section on the site. The lead males in both of those stories are the middle ground between the two Lances. The offscreen Vicky of “In Your Car” and the girl in “Wishing” are both early versions of Mandy, the second girl in Everlasting. Vicky’s boyfriend in “Car” will also show up to fuck with Lance. I actually look at those two stories in one lump with “Flash,” as the post-Cut My Hair shift in my fiction from adolescence to early adulthood. “Flash” was the perfection of what came before it, and the other two were missions of discovery.
Anyway, I have moved my operation to Starbucks for an afternoon. Portable computers, portable music players…modern life is rubbish. I am not sure how often I will do this—presuming it works to get me focused—given the incredibly angry yowl Sadie released when she saw me getting dressed to go out. That cat has an amazing internal clock. She knows when it’s time to eat, and she knows evenings and weekends are supposed to be her time. She despises you Oni fans for taking me away eight hours a day. Fuck your comics habits, she requires the ability to have me around in case she feels like not ignoring me.
But sometimes writing at home can be a problem. The main distractions being e-mail and the internet. I don’t even have to get out of the chair to waste time. Just click to a different window. And yeah, you can turn those things off, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to convince yourself to turn them back on for a second, and before you know it you’re proofing design for Jingle Belle and Hopeless Savages.
So, it’s a Soy Hazelnut Mocha and a Peanut Butter/Chocolate cookie for me (go, fatty!) and let’s get back to section 1.5, “Dizzy Heights.”
And I am thinking of calling Thad’s band The Swank. It’s a bit of a challenge to write about bands in a book set in Portland and not have it seem like someone real. So, I started thinking about current trends, which would exist outside the Portland of 2000, and band names like The Strokes, The Hives, The Vines, The Faint, The Music, The Coral, The Streets, etc. "The + One Word" equations. The Swank. I was thinking it should be something kind of lame that says the band thinks pretty highly of itself, like they need to tell you they're cool. (This is how I spent my time walking from the house to the coffee shop. That and listening to the second half of the new Low. I listened to the other half on a walk yesterday. The album hadn’t been resonating with me prior to these excursions. It’s a headphones record, not background music. I needed it to be loud between my ears. I am getting it now.)
I think my favorite lines today are: “‘Hey, man, that’s why I make music.’ Thad snickered. When he laughed, it happened in the top of his throat between his mouth and his nasal cavity. It was a bit like a stuttering garbage disposal.” I’ll probably hate it later, but for right now, it works for me.
I actually got a fair clip done once I got to Starbucks (2,688 words in about two hours, as opposed to 345 in about the same amount of time at home). My space at the shop got a little uncomfortable, as I was facing west and the sun was going down behind me for a bit. The sun is my enemy. Where the hell is my fall weather? Where are my clouds?
Today’s tunes for writing: Richard Ashcroft, “The Miracle” (b-side to “Check the Meaning” 7”); Pulp, We Love Life and Pulpintro; The Dandy Warhols, Dandys Rule OK; Low, Trust; The Small Faces, The Darlings of Wapping Wharf Laundrette disc 2; Mansun, Litte Kix
Current soundtrack: “Genius,” my favorite Warhols track ever (it's on Dandys Rule OK)