Friday, April 4, 2014

Mine and Not-Mine

Oh, journalist story. I just don't know about you.

I drafted the journalist story in late February and early March. It got just under a month to ferment before the first real revision, because after writing it I went over it again and then again across several days. Then I couldn't stop thinking about it, which meant it was not becoming a foreign object ready for (somewhat) objective study. So I knew it needed more time than usual for a revision to be decent at all.

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours revising it at last. It has given me distinctly divided feelings. I know there's something there thematically, and I think there's something there character-wise. In places, the writing feels like it's singing. But on the whole, the story feels like it's just not coming off, and that feeling might be springing from a variety of weird places.

Maybe it feels strange because it's actually good. Unfamiliar because it's unintuitive: not the kind of story-of-my-heart that I can't seem to place in magazines, but a story-of-my-hands that's a piece of craft, instead. (Or because it's actually not good - it seems like it's not coming off because it's not coming off.) Maybe it's because it's part of the blended thing I talked about in that fermentation post -
meld[ing] a methodical sort of writing that I've been developing in my exercises and in the hot springs story with the disturbing, sex-and-violence-focused work that produced the stories I love that keep getting rejected
- which is not how I've written up to now, but is perhaps a better way for me to write moving forward. Or maybe it feels strange, just practically, because there's an awful lot of cursing (even the C-word), but I'm also writing about tender and difficult places in these characters' lives.

Or maybe it isn't working and I need to rewrite it.

I dunno. The piece is exciting for me to work on, but it's also quite confusing, because it doesn't feel like one thing or another. Mine and not-mine, good and not-good, subtle and obvious.

This probably isn't very interesting. It's just the only thing writing-related that's really happened lately. Spring break is next week - which, incidentally, divides the semester into a ten-week block and a four-week block, which really? That's poor planning, to me - and I made a list of all the things I want to do. Revise one story, start another, read the next book for 478 (Leviathan, which itself is an interesting prospect because I didn't like the one Auster book I've read (Moon Palace, which felt static and overly New Yorky and just...boring) but this book has one of the best first lines I've ever read ("Six days ago, a man blew himself up by the side of a road in northern Wisconsin.")) and get to work on my final paper for the same class, etc etc. It's a wildly unrealistic list. This weekend, though, I've got to get the journalist story into shape enough to give it to a non-Matt reader or two, to find out what the hell it is I have here.

Want the first line? I'm really happy with the first line. It's not good the way the Auster line is, but its sensations are exactly right.
A torn-up lotto scratcher blew about the brick walkway leading up to Charlotte’s house.

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