The novel – half way done

After, oh, nearly 40 years, The Novel is finally in fluid motion. The first 60,000 words just poured out of me in 10 days, onto a skeleton synopsis, peopled with characters from my life, the whole thing spiraling down from a dream. One long moment in a dream that I had a year ago. I woke and immediately made some notes and sketches. But I knew it was too huge to take on then. The space wasn’t open yet. Then a couple of months back it was suddenly Time. And what a joy, to feel lit up on the inside, the words and images coming in a rush, sparks from my fingertips. That’s literally how it feels when the magic happens, the act of Creation.

I LOVE to write. I love the action of it, the sound, the way the words just appear on the screen in front of me, becoming Real. The shapes the letters and words make – and how evocative some words can be. City. Love. Exodus. Lesbian.

There is a feeling some days like it’s sculpture – forming the thing by hand, by addition, then other days it’s like carving, creation through subtraction. Or like archaeology, digging, then brushing gently, uncovering what already exists. And uncovering yourself, too. Bits and things and ideas and stuff you had little or no idea about. You aren’t quite the same, even part way into it. Or, you’re finding out what you really are. I recommend it. I would have writing a novel as compulsory national service. Every ten years, you take six months to write a novel. Work it all out, share what you’ve learned, show what you are. Many, many unsuspecting people would find they are a Miracle Visionary, Lyrical Missionary.

Now, trying to balance the often volcanic creative urge with the need to stick to one project at a time. Another is murmuring in the background, a book of illustrated short stories. But first, get this major statement off my chest. Not a desperately artistic statement – it’s a story, carrying a message. Well, lots of messages. Mostly about trying to get people to understand the power they have. To make their own life, and the world at large, whatever they want it to be.

The placid, malleable, thoroughly agreeable ‘consumer’ is  not long for this world. The riots erupting hither and yon are proof positive of the boiling anger felt by many of the world’s people, angry and absolutely done with the days of being excluded. From decision-making, from earning enough to have a good life, from having some decent level of power over their own future.

No matter what the money-men, and I use that term advisedly, try, they cannot keep this ship afloat much longer. Too many holes. And what will we set out on instead? That, I believe, will be for the people to determine. We will look for the old leadership, and we will not find it. Beneath the waves, or maybe or an island they managed to buy with all the wealth, the very sweat they sucked from the pockets of the poor. I don’t understand those people, not one jot. It seems to me that the real joys of life are not to be found in such mediocre places, but in uniting in a vibrant, meaningful common cause. Making a better world together. Haven’t you ever been part of a happening? A spontaneous social event, even a flat tyre, could be anything, but something which makes people pull together and figure it out, and make an adventure of it. No doubt this is all comfy middle class liberal romanticism, but what the hell. If you’re going to have a spirit and a vision, be true to it. Enjoy it! Believe in it. You just might make it happen. And if the book is about anything, it is about that.

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New Year, new stories: Agent, I Stab at Thee and Too Posh for Porn?

2011 kicks off with two new stories, ‘Agent, I Stab at Thee‘, and ‘Too Posh for Porn?‘. Again, don’t go anywhere near them if you are easily offended.

They were actually written late last summer, but had to be unpublished until the competition they were written for was over, and I got a moment to fiddle around with the clunky wordpress editing tools.

The stories come from I have no idea where. Usually trains of thought, occasionally quite at random. I have an outline of the story, and know the feeling of the characters, and the general plot first, then I simply let them do and say whatever they will. It’s somehow a more exciting way to write, because you feel like as much like an outside observer as you possibly could. It seems to flow better when it’s left unanalysed. Character analysis seems less necessary when they are largely doing what it seems they naturally would – rather than being bent awkwardly to fit the plot. Coming up with these two core elements helps make all the other decisions, even the crazy ones, in terms of settings and supporting characters. This is because if you know the central characters and the story arc, incidental things can be accommodated, without seeming too outlandish. That’s my sense anyway. Maybe to readers it all seems like utter nonsense. Maybe that says something about my life and imagination. It’s been rather colourful, and I’ve gravitated towards unusual and fascinating people, and had the good fortune to visit some amazing locations of all kinds. The stories I write are just not that much of a leap for me, and seem plausible. Let me know what you make of them.

M

Nudity is my Business …

Among my favoured themes is nudity. There’s just something about it, isn’t there? It is glanced at briefly in ‘Nudity is My Business … and Business is Good‘. As per the previous post on why I write, this one is obviously in the wish-fulfilment camp.

M

Why Do I Write Stories?

What’s it all about? Why make up a narrative, tell of events that never took place, craft metaphor, weigh each word?

Control. What if we want to control events, even the fate of the entire planet? Or universe? Or the heavens? I think there may be something to this. I can’t speak for others, but I often deal in ethics – ought, in the face of is. I find the ‘is’ of the news variety quite appalling. As if the entire news broadcast is actually a gameshow where competing teams try to dream up the most abhorrent reality they can manage, then sit back as the nation slips into a broken-hearted funk. First team to provoke 200 suicides wins.

Wish fulfilment.  The flip-side of wanting to avoid the bad is to engender of manifest the good. Our imaginations are geniuses at presenting vivid pictures – virtual realities – that we can lay back in and soak up. A jacuzzi of the mind. Absolute indulgence.

Depending on the story, it may be the former, the latter, or both, which are exercised. What fascinates me though is the grey area – the zone of moral ambivalence – the part where you can’t easily work out right and wrong, black and white. That is, after all, where most of us pass through each day. We like to think we’re solid citizens, moral and decent, but we commit our fair share of karmic sins. And then, there’s plenty or room for interpretation. We can tell ourselves we’re doing no harm, but someone somewhere may well take issue.

OK, the cat is curled up on my lap and making use of a laptop all but impossible. But, you get the idea.

M

Me and Kanye

I read something recently about Kanye West that sounded pure stupid until a little reflection time happened. He said something to the effect of his greatest pain being the inability to see himself perform live.

Now, many commentators pointed out, not unreasonably, that he could just have easily described his mother’s death in such terms. That aside, we must take it at face value. Why would this be his greatest pain?

After a couple of days, I was writing something, and it occurred to me that I would never truly be able to get outside my writing. An expression of the subject-object problem perhaps. I can’t ever experience my work objectively. It’s never new to me.

Perhaps these are the sorts of things ol’ Kanye is talking about. He’d like to see himself as if through the eyes of … anyone else. And he can’t. He’s trapped in his own consciousness for ever more. With people absolutely everywhere calling him a douche.

I participated today in a short ‘mindfulness’ workshop. Perhaps that is the key, to be very present in my writing and reading, and try to connect with it in the most immediate way I can. I’ll try it.

I have a script on the way for a short film, so no new stories appearing at the moment. More “poetry” is a possibility though.

M

New story: “Most of All, I Miss the Sky”

I was talking with my mate Chris – a fantastic illustrator from the land of the Scots. He told me had to take the dog out in the rain, and I wondered what it would take for that to seem like an attractive proposition.

I enjoyed writing this more than anything else to date. Partly because of my love of sci-fi, partly because I liked these characters a lot. I’m very tempted to write a part II.

Hope you dig it.

M

Mad Women I Have Known No.2

Sex, ghosts and sleeping pills. The Classic saturday night date. Volume 2 in the Mad Women series, and another true story. Expect a few more of these.

M

Mad Women I Have Known No.1

The problem with writing about Mad Women I Have Known is that I am still know a few of them! How does one get around the problem of writing about things you know, when that may compromise enduring friendships? Appealing to ‘in the name of art’ just isn’t going to fly. Not for what I have in mind. Will have to think on that one.

Still, it was interesting to write this first instalment. Will see what follows.

M

Enough to Organise

Having produced, as our American cousins would say, “a whole bunch of stuff” lately, the site has been freshly organised.

There are three categories: Short Stories, Flash Fiction and “Poetry”.

The first is obvious, the second means fiction under 750 words, and the latter is tongue-in-cheek (which is very obvious when one reads it). I know nothing about poetry, except that one is either gifted or awful in that department.

I cannot stress enough how important it is for readers to avoid this site if they are easily offended. Anyone who knows me well would stand as a character witness, using words and phrases like ‘integrity’, ‘innate decency’ and possibly ‘slightly effeminate’.

On this last, I was told a little while ago by a numerologist that this is my first incarnation as a male for over 400 years. That explains a great deal, in my view.

Enough. Enjoy.

M

New Story: Roof Life in the Dead Zone

Despite being tempted to write fiction on the subject of climate change, sustainability and so on, I rarely think of any way to tell a story about it. Finding something that hasn’t already been done, and that I would be interested in researching and writing, has been tricky.

There is a novel in the works, but this short story was both interesting and something I didn’t think would have been written about – much.

Roof Life in the Dead Zone is sci-fi, but based on practices and technologies from all over the world. These are things that work now. You just need the space.

Enjoy, and send any feedback to bimbogumbo@gmail.com.

Miguel

17 August 2010

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