Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Imagine two good friends of several years, Paco and Abundio: Paco is going to get married, and he wants Abundio to be his best man. Abundio graciously declines, and then proceeds to not even attend the wedding. Paco decides never to speak to him again.
What kind of friendship is this, if any? Who's behavior is more unfriendly, Paco's or Abundio's? Does it matter why Abundio does not attend the wedding? Perhaps he is uncomfortable at parties. Perhaps he is embarrassed by his lack of formalwear. Perhaps he has a secret crush on the bride. Perhaps he thinks weddings are a silly social custom. Perhaps he is hurt that what used to be Paco's friend-time will now be wife-time. Perhaps he merely got lost of the way to the chapel.
Should Paco forgive Abundio? If a friendship is based on one single act, is it really a friendship? What if Paco is offended? What if Paco suspects Abundio of coveting his wife?Is it wrong for Paco to expect Abundio to attend his wedding? Or should Paco be able to expect everything of his friend? If Paco asks Abundio to do something he does not want to do, is Paco really a friend? Is it selfish of Abundio to not attend Paco's wedding? Is it selfish for Paco to expect Abundio to do something that is not true to his nature? Is Abundio deceiving a friend if he attends Paco's wedding when he doesn't really want to?
Someone reads this blog: is she a friend? Someone reads this blog and occasionally exchanges an email: is he a friend? Someone reads this blog, regularly exchanges emails, and speaks on the phone: is she a friend? Someone vacations with us, but never reads our blog: is he a friend? Are coworkers friends: if one only works with them? if one has an after-work drink with them? if one plays street basketball with them? If we invite our neighbor out to dinner, is he a friend? If we invite him to dinner at our house, is he a friend? If he takes care of our llama and mail while we are out of town, is he a friend? When does an acquaintance become a friend? Are there specific criteria to classify a person as a friend?
If a friend is someone who subjects one to long periods of silence and careless remarks, is she a friend one would want to keep? Why do people find it so difficult to match Emerson's expectations of a friend? Do people generally prefer making friends to keeping them? Can a dog be a person's best friend? Can some indulgent friend help us figure all this out?
But back to the NoWri at hand. We are pleased to update the official counter. As suggested, we have taken the beginning of our first novel Disaster and followed with a page break and the beginning of our second novel NaNoWriMo, and after another page break added the expansions to our ongoing novel The Beggars of Azure (which you can tell is real because it has a real title!). This new total should make the numbers people happy.
Obviously the gimmick of NaNoWriMo (the event, not our novel of the same name) works for a lot of people. Though these are clearly not the conditions under which we feel we can produce a decent piece of fiction, it does work for us, just not according to the rules. The rules say one new novel completed--we have begun two, and carried on with an existing third. The good news is that it's all writing, and those first 700 words that came to a sudden dead end might grow up someday to be something spectacular. They form an idea seed that has yet to germinate. Writers require those, too, as well as the words that go with them. The gimmick works for us because we are thinking about writing more, we are actually putting words down again, and we are moving forward. That's a win for us.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
An intriguing premise and lots of promise does not a novel make. What we began even had a concrete ending at which to aim. Yet after those first few words there was nothing more to come. Which means nothing else bubbled to the surface. Which means we didn't really try, we waited for Inspiration. And with thousands of other writers doing the same thing, Inspiration was busy elsewhere. Inspiration, as we used to remind ourself regularly, is the reward of daily practice.
Wanting to write and writing are not the same thing. Wanting to write merely requires an Idea, which is but a first kiss to the complete consumation of Inspiration. The Idea is a tease.
What we discovered, or more to the point, confirmed, is that we are from the camp which believes this is mainly a stunt. We are not a writer who can produce on demand. And yet...
A week after our late and aborted start of a novel, we Selected All and Deleted, and we started over with something new. This new novel, tentatively called NaNoWriMo, does not have an end in sight. It does, however, have characters who we know, characters we can take from personal experience and plug them in to this new situation, a combination of writers' retreat, The Real World, Survivor, and (the theme of all our novels) affairs of the heart. And in one brief sitting we produced around 20% more words than we did with the start of Disaster. But what did we really know about Greek courtesans? Writing, and the troubles of writing under the pressure of a writing contest in which one writer is removed at the end of each week (but why not more than just removed, why not eaten, or shot, or some more sinister fate, or apparently sinister, like in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory?) falls closer to the realm of what we know.
What ten days comes down to so far is that we have no chance at this. Despite our spotty postings, we would have a better chance at succeeding at NaBloPoMo. Well, the enthusiasm of others can be infectious, and dreams die hard, and the truth is that we still want to write. Among all the other ideas and characters and teases has even been a renewed interest in finishing the favorite novel we have been working on completing for, what, oh, five or more years? That is what really needs to happen here, and if we can put down any words to that end, we will gladly violate the rules of this affair and count them toward our total. Which, actually if we combine the first output with the second output comes to around 1600 words total. Success is defined differently for us all. And maybe we will end the month being the biggest loser of all. Not writing the most words--now that's something every aspiring writer is quite good at.
Thursday, November 9, 2006
1. Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure
2. Lady Chatterley's Lover
3. Tropic of Cancer
4. The Story of O
6. Interview with the Vampire
7. Portnoy's Complaint
8. The Magus
9. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle
10. Endless Love
12. Carrie's Story
13. Fear of Flying
14. Peyton Place
15. Story of the Eye
16. The End of Alice
19. Singular Pleasures
20. In The Cut
24. An American Dream
25. The Carpetbaggers
Check your score: if you've read fewer than four, you're an old maid; from four to eight, you're a curious teenager; from nine to fourteen, you're a desperate housewife; from fifteen to twenty, you're readily available; and if you've read more than twenty-one, you're a five-star nymphomaniac.
Thursday, November 2, 2006
"If you took this case, how would you approach it?"
"I wouldn't take this case. There is nothing to be gained from it."
"Nothing for you to be gained, you mean."
"Of course. You of all people are not that unselfish."
"But there is a life to be gained for the accused."
Let us call this novel-so-far by it's most obvious title, Disaster.