Ripping Fiction From The Facts

Duck & cover, kids- I have been allowed to run my mouth about the book again:

It’s all about having something to do, really. About how you keep your creative brain churning when it’s already spent the entire workday creating for other people. About how you can make music by yourself when the guys in the band have all moved away so gigs & rehearsals are rare and special. About being selfish. About lying your fucking head off. About writing what you know, with deliberate mistakes. About lots of things that won’t be crammed into a riffy list. Abou…yeah, well, you know.

The backstory is not important. It will only get in the way and make readers guess at motivation when they should just enjoy the story. Because hey, even amateurs and dilettantes never let the truth get in the way of a good story, right? That’s right, buddy. The rules are likewise less than important. Oh really? Fuck yes. Maybe not made to be broken, but made to be bent. Bent to your will. Bent to what suits the story. Third person not honest enough? Ditch it for first-person narrative. Why trust those narrators, anyway? What have they ever done to earn that? Point A to B to C plots too boring? Duh. Okay then, how about some medeas res, dude? Eh, okay, I guess, but what else you got? Split narratives, man. Split narratives and alternating tenses? Damn, give me a goddam headache, whydoncha.

All right then, now we’re cooking a bit. Show me some more. More? You got it. Close your eyes and open your ears. Huh? You heard me, listen. You need a soundtrack, you know- for inspiration, for background noise, for an extra push to put you in that place that is not right now, except as it exists in that brain of yours. Get it out of there, man. Get it out into the world, where people can ooh and aah and enthuse and misinterpret and scorn. Where people can project and guess wrong and enjoy the story anyway. Okay, well, that’s enough of that shit. Don’t bore us, get to the chorus. What does it all mean, Keir? Dude, like I’d tell you if I knew? Fuck that. I’d keep it all to myself, and you’d only know it through this filter that I’ve called, for better or worse, “The Weapon Of Young Gods,” a wild stab at expression born of boredom, nostalgia, inertia, and spasmodic bursts of heretofore-unknown discipline and willpower.

Dammit! I guess I can’t stop with the mood once it’s established. That’s okay for now, I guess-why postpone the good shit, after all? The ego demands it, that’s why. The ego that bloomed like a snarling hydra of hubris when school was easy and social skills were negotiable and brilliance was your ticket to fame, or at least grudging respect and lack of bullying, among your erstwhile spoiled contemporaries. Oops, there’s the revenge and guilt again, Declan. Sorry about the infringement, man- don’t sic the lawyers on me. Don’t throw me in that briar patch.

So like I said, creative schizophrenia is easy when it’s a non-clinical, bald-faced lie, especially when it involves others’ grudging tolerance to an explosion of preening, insular, self-absorbed, and broken characters since the year began. This may not really be earth-shattering news, so let me elaborate a bit. See, I’ve been good at this language thing for a while. Yeah, yeah, even when it falls into stupid caricature like it’s been doing for this whole post. You’ll live, don’t worry. But yeah, I’ve been good at it since I were a wee bearn, and I have the papers and the praise and the wreckage of jealous pretenders behind me to prove it, too. Problem was, all that stuff I learned to do was almost one hundred percent analytical. The creative writing thing shut down just as I walked in the door, so I dealt with it, jumped in the prevailing flow, and learned that particular coil of ropes. Which was fine, really, when all I was comfortable with was being a terminal appreciator, a mere commentator who created nothing. Oh shit, there I go again- Hornby will sue, but I can take that guy. I’m more spoiled and white and Californian than that limey’ll ever be.

Where was I? Oh yes- appreciation versus creation. Well, for a while it worked great, until I found some leverage to break out of it- namely, the same old sonic booms and aural pleasure I’d always loved, but this time topped off with the verses, choruses, bridges, soaring guitar solos, and raw power that only a combination of Fenders and drum-heads can make. Take it from me, man- that shit can last you a decade, and longer if you’re either a) lucky, or b) a whoremongering bootlicker. Well, maybe that’s a bit harsh. A bit. But yeah, that can only last for so long, too, especially if logistics and sheer survival are factors. Then you have to knuckle under and learn how to live, or else go to grad school. Nothing against grad school, mind you, because it’s worked for lots of people I know. However, it rejected me outright, and it was correct to do so, because I was not ready and not qualified.

That’s not settling, that’s the truth. That also happened to be the catalyst for breaking out of three verses and a chorus, of finally being able to expand a story, explode an idea, twist the truth, and, better late than never, return fire before the whole platoon is annihilated. That’s how a nebulous mix of memory, talent, and training was- will be, even- shoe-horned into forty-eight little bits, how an ocean of static was eventually boiled down from the first real, pivotal points in your life, before you learned to mold the fountain of spew bursting from your spleen into small drops of recollection that could be bottled and catalogued on the kitchen counter. The town you grew up in, the vicious narco-socio-academic gauntlet you ran with everyone else who left that town, the most eventful year of your life up to that point, a time when even the tardiest of us late bloomers had to finally take charge and callously abandon our fathers as we were abandoned, remorselessly fuck with the memory of our exes as manipulatively and expertly as they have fucked with us, and slather the whole thing in a viscous film of the cool, seductive, and ultimately banal language of life. If it sounds bizarre, it’s probably true. If it sounds deadly, it’s probably not. If it sounds like anything you’ve ever heard before, you have the choice to either endure and/or embrace, or sneer and project and dismiss and therefore automatically cede any respect you may have ever had.

But what does all that even mean, man? Um, I thought you knew that, but whatever. It doesn’t mean a classic, doesn’t mean great or good, even. It means whatever you need it to mean. For me, all it means is that I’m a third of the way through the first draft of my first novel, that’s all. It’s just something to do, really.