Derik Badman's Journal

2020-11-05 08:30

I've fallen behind on my journalling, as I try to meet a daily word count on this novel, and I wonder if a novel is even what I want to be writing. This fiction started out as short stories, and I like the serialized nature of them, separate but building on one another. I don't have an epic plot in mind to make any of it feel like a novel, but I consider it could be a picaresque, which perhaps is not all that different than what I have been doing with the short stories that aren't exactly separate from each other.

There never was a plan really, just an idea to write some sword & sorcery with an unexpected/unconventional character type. I'm not sure I can really consider it sword & sorcery, but it's also not epic fantasy or portal fantasy or urban fantasy (in that genre specific way it is used, despite it being fantasy that takes place in an urban environment). It's not fairy tale or myth or weird fiction. And sword & sorcery is not best known for novels (perhaps a argument for writing one, though).

And so I'm trying to meet a word count with no other longterm goal, but also letting other writing fall away, not getting my usual writing done, so this morning I decided that if word count is all that matters, then it doesn't matter if my "novel" also breaks into my "journal" as I go. A little metafictional cliché to go with my fantasy clichés.

The election this week is throwing a dense layer of feeling and atmosphere across everything, but I am trying to stay level. I've been sitting almost every morning (I missed one day), which begins to crowd my pre-work routine: sitting, walking, breakfast, and then writing 1700 words, all before I start work at 9 is perhaps too much to get in consistently, especially when the writing comes with long pauses.

Up until now, even when I was trying to write everyday (I really fell behind on that after our vacation where I was working on a sixth story in a stream of consciousness mode that quickly stumped me, causing me to just stop working on it for almost 2 months) it was not about an amount but just progress, and sometimes "progress" meant a few sentences and some notes for what would happen next accompanied by some light research. Given the time constraints now, I don't have the time for such slowness, which I think it partly the point, to just let it all come out, a kind of controlled automatic writing (it is supposed be "novel writing" which implies some form of structure (and for most people, plot, characters, settings, etc) that is not always so automatic).

And I probably need to think that way, to let the words come out, and if I throw all of them away later there is no harm but some time used up.

I finished the second of Le Guin's "Annals of the Western Shore" novels the other night, Voices. It turned out, contrary to my previous statements, that there is a connection with the first book. The narrator and main secondary character of the first novel, become important secondary characters in the second novel, which has a different narrator. They are now grown up (and married), and so the narrator switches to another teenage character (a woman this time) and as before we get a coming of age tale, this time set around a city and a struggle with an occupying force. Le Guin, not unexpectedly, constructs her plot to convey the power of words/books/voices and downplay the power of violence, which is not to say there isn't violence in the book, but that the resolution of the problems are not found in the violence exactly. Though also, the threat of violence by an occupied populous does play an important part in the resolution, but the words and books and poems provide a medium for communication that makes sure the final resolution is not just a lot of fighting and death. In thinking about it, there is difficult message within the plot about letting go of historical violence. The occupied people do not expel or overthrow the occupying force, despite all the death and damage they have caused.

Started in on Faulkner's If I Forget Thee, Jerusalam (f.k.a The Wild Palms). I had that novel stuck in my head as a Faulkner I had long wanted to read, and I couldn't remember why, at first thinking it was because it was the one Queneau translated to French, but on looking it up realized that was Mosquitoes (one of his earliest novels), so just now I am happy to see that in looking it up, the Wikipedia article supplies my answer: this one was translated by Borges into Spanish, so I probably read something Borges wrote about it in one of my collections of his work. Unfortunately, I am finding the novel itself a bit of a slog. It alternates, chapter by chapter, between two stories, one of which, "The Old Man," I am finding extremely longwinded and boring. I'm not clear on how much the two interrelate, such that I would be missing something considerable if I just read the more interesting one, "The Wild Palms." Faulkner's writing is so much different than a lot that I have been reading lately, it is denser, longer, filled with more analogies and metaphors, often even obscuring the actual events happening. There is a certain amount of inferences one must make from the text.

And now I'm not sure how I feel about this interruption of the fiction with the non-fiction, like that old commercial about chocolate and peanut butter, two things that I acutally don't like mixed (well I'm not a big fan of peanut butter by itself either).

I just turned and looked at my office window and a fog has settled over the area. The air was clear earlier when I was going to feed Buddy and saw one of the foxes out back of the house (he scratched, stood up, stretched front then back legs, shook himself, and then wondered off into the brush). We're having a warm spell this week, perhaps the cool night air and the warming day air are causing the fog, I don't really know how fog works (or maybe this is just haze, a differentiation I'm not clear on). It was a beautiful day yesterday, at least it was when we took a walk after lunch. The sky was bright and clear, the air was warm (for the season). You can for a moment forget the political turmoil and stress.