Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Worstbest Writing, Worstbest Weather

My to-do list for today involves four writing tasks, two reading tasks, and "change sheets?" I think it's going to be a good day.

So far we've had to do two exercises in my workshop class, and my work on them has been the worstbest kind of work. For each, I've written my requisite word count, and been very pleased with the result, to the point where I think maybe I can fiddle with the result and eventually send it to a flash fiction market. And then as I start to fiddle with it, the thing starts to look bad, and then worse, and then I kind of turn away in shame, like George McFly turning away from that ginger who's macking on Lorraine instead of defending her, while Marty's going all transparent in the corner, like oh, forget this, I don't actually have a solid core of self-esteem, I'll just go home and read my pulp sci-fi mags. Who wants a smokin' hot, boy-crazy girlfriend, anyway?

Of course, we all know that George found it in him to stand up to that ginger and get the girl.
Let it be a lesson to all of us. 

What? You guys don't have Back to the Future memorized down to the last millisecond?

The point is, these exercises have felt really good at first, very solid and forward-moving in terms of my writing ability, and then they collapse under scrutiny. Exercises collapsing under scrutiny is in itself not a surprise, nor even something I can beat myself up about, but it's disappointing to think that I've done well and then discover that I haven't.

I believe I can fix the second one, but I haven't heard from my small group about it. After I do, on Wednesday, I'll let it sit for a month or more before I look again. I've read it too many times. Here's the first paragraph, though.
Obviously the place is unsafe, but it’s a large expanse of flat concrete out of the sun, so the boys go there to skateboard. Skating is transportation, mating dance, and self-expression all in one, so they learn jumps and trade lingo under the corrugated roof of this old warehouse, its viscera cleanly removed, its walls torn off in ragged sections as if eaten. Usually, Dylan’s older brother crams all five of them into his dusty blue Corolla in exchange for weed or gas money, because moms do not need to know about the warehouse, and they roll away the long dog days after school out here, surrounded by loose desert and abandoned equipment, the wind stirring sand into their hair. Yesterday, Dylan’s brother brought his girlfriend along in the passenger seat when he came to pick them up, so Ray and Colin got left behind. 
I actually took this from life. I drove about an hour north of L.A. to see a friend last week, and on the way back I went by what appeared to be a group of abandoned construction sites. Under a former building, which is now not much more than a rusty steel roof and the beams holding it up, I saw the bottom halves of boys skateboarding around. Oddly, their movements reminded me of nothing so much as bumper cars, trundling in little sedate paths. I think it's because they were pretty far away. Whoever those boys are, I doubt they are sedate up close.

One of my writing tasks today is revisions on the dreadful story. A reader gave me a fucking perfect solution to a minor web of problems in the story, so integrating her idea should be like putting a key in a lock. I hope. And then I'll start in on Light in August. Thus I go into undiscovered country in terms of Faulkner, and I'm pretty fearful but naturally I'm looking forward to it, too.

It is HOT here. My Facebook friends in other climes are making noises about fall, and it's kind of disorienting, because it reminds me that it is actually September. (And my friend in Australia is talking about how nice it is to fold warm laundry in the season she's in, but that's a bit different.) Here, September feels like an extension of August - dog-hot, what-are-you-talking-about-Eliot-August-is-clearly-the-cruelest-month August - instead of the transitional month it's always been for me. A few more years in SoCal and I won't associate September with autumn at all any longer.

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