n. infantile pattern of suckle-swallow movement in which the tongue is placed between incisor teeth or between alveolar ridges during initial stage of swallowing (if persistent can lead to various dental abnormalities) v. [content removed due to Bush campaign to clean up the internet] n. act of nyah-nyah v. pursuing with relentless abandon the need to masticate and thrust the world into every bodily incarnation in order to transform it, via the act of salivation, into nutritive agency

Monday, April 03, 2006

fictionaroony: the evolution of the blaaahgggg

I've been thinking lately about the evolution of the blog - perhaps it was m.lady's note that evolution is not just for apes and such. The thing is, this blog started as a travel-blog thingy that I wanted for my parents so that they would know that I hadn't bit the bucket down in Ecuador. No malaria, guerilla-warfare murderings, car crashings, heat strokes, and so forth.

But it really quickly turned into this means I have for getting myself writing, and getting myself back into the habit of processing my thoughts, feelings and experiences on paper. It felt like a relief, being and all that I hadn't written for quite some time, but I also started noticing certain things.

Like how it seemed as if my life became divided and then put back together. I started putting both fiction and nonfiction on my blog and they felt like two halves were finally starting to be sewn together, because everything in my head had been rustled up good (truth? what the hell is a truth?). I had taken to this habit of tabulating truth with dates and details, so that I could tell it apart from the lies and manipulations that my brain came up with. So, it seemed like this writing forum gave me a place to start marking back and forth between nonfiction and fiction, in order to really start to understand things just a bit better.

I wanted to keep it that way.

I also noticed, and still notice, along apparently with other people, that my nonfiction is stronger than my fiction. For me, nonfiction comes easier; I don't have to think about it too much, but just start writing after a little itch gets under my skin, and follow it through to where the itch stops. Fiction is harder - sometimes I think about it, sometimes I write it, sometimes I brood on it, and sometimes I wonder where the hell the plot is. And then where the details are? And also why are my characters less developed? Lots of questions come up in regards to comparing the many different types of writing that I do.

For awhile now, I've just gone with the theory that crafting my nonfiction was going to get me far in crafting my fiction. I find that I'm reading more nonfiction lately, and being able to access it more easily than fiction (which sometimes makes me feel crappy and sad and distracted). But the more nonfiction I'm reading, how odd, the more fiction I want to write. I like fiction better in general; it satisfies my urge towards creation, and so I decided to get good at the noting the detail and pulling stuff together, yaddah yaddah, in any way I can. But I think now that fiction needs be honed in a different sort of way. It needs everything that nonfiction does, but it needs it put together in a new order.

In an effort to start applying the realization that fiction needs something else, I think I'm going to try working on some different projects--you all (like, all 7 of you), especially er (haha), are responsible for keeping me honest to this resolution. Right now, having just read Aquamarine, which is f-ing stellar in characterization, I think I'm going to work on writing a few character sketches, and starting to combine my nonfiction and fiction. They'll be rough, but I'm okay with that.

Very okay. Sometimes you just gotta be weak at something and keep working on it until it comes through. Especially if it's what you want to do. So here's a character sketch for Fish, a fellow in my novel-attempt. Maybe I'll sketch him from different POVs too. But later.


During that slow edge of time towards graduation, Fish developed the habit of not lifting his feet.

He’d get up in the morning and shuffle his way to the bathroom, flush the toilet and then shuffle back to his bed. Despite the apparent lack of depth to his footfalls, he still managed to drag his feet in such a way as to make the whole house vibrate. It wasn’t that he was huge, but rather than he carried such a density within his tall limbs that he was capable of displacing a great deal of air and touching the floor with a sonic boom that had been created with the smallest of pressures. I often thought that if Fish ever decided to take up swimming, which he had avoided since childhood probably because of the expectant weight of his name, he would sink like mahogany and have to walk like a crane on the silt. He was just that thick in the bone.

Every morning, I’d wait dreamishly for it to come. I’d roll over in my sleep, just getting to the climatic finale, which I could never convince to come early due to an internal clock as rigid as a businessman’s wall. And then I’d feel it, fifteen minutes before my alarm: the thunk of the floorboards, fwump, fwump, fwump, right past my room and into the other. Always around the third thump, I’d wake solidly from sleep, each time wanting to beat Fish into a pulp. Fwump, fwump, fwump, the little ripples in the water next to my bed, and I’d bite my tongue, bite my arm, bite my pillow, roll around.

Once I flew out of bed, past the blissful sleeping figure of Cedra, threw open my door, and shouted, “Pick up your fucking feet!”

But Fish just lowered his head and kept shuffling past my room. I leaped out and reaching as high as I could reach, grabbed his shoulders from behind and tried to give him a good shake. He just slowed down temporarily, like a giraffe with a wayward baby hippo below him, and then shrugged off my hands with a jerk of his body. “Gerroff me.”

“Will you, for the love of God, please pick up your feet when you walk.”

His blank little look, the greasy badge of hair over his eyes. Even in his sleep he shed dandruff on his shoulders, and even in my fury, I wanted to brush it off.

“Please? Can’t you see how you shake the whole house?”

Fish kept hallucinating me, and then reached his hand up to the edge of his animal park boxer shorts, and lifted them up a hitch. His t-shirt straggled around his shoulders like a rag on the wash line. I didn’t feel I was gaining any ground; then he gave one of his grunts, turned around, and shuffled onwards towards the bathroom.

Watching his back, I could help but to picture the look of desperate incredulity on my face. I gave it up for a loss and turned around to go back to my bed and the ten minutes left on my alarm clock. Once there, I shuffled around and then felt guilty. Fish never said anything, never spoke, and seemed to only have a liminal touch on life in general. Perhaps it was cruel of me to try to take away his sounds, the way he had of moving objects around him with the fwump of his body.

Something about the boy was unusually gentle, and I never knew if he was going to drop five dollars on the table in front of me after I tried and failed to get a little gas money from Muebla. He had a way of doing things like this; bringing home a bottle of apple cider he had found from who knows where, or leaving a brand-new calculator on Kerri’s bedside table during that time when she was struggling with math. At the dinner table, he’d grunt and shovel food into his mouth like a deranged boar, but if a little object could be bought and left, Fish was going to notice. I couldn’t help thinking each morning, as I tried to reconstruct a solid dream-end, that perhaps it was all a front for his real plan; he was going to get up some morning with his silly falling apart jammy-boxers and fwump around the house with a handsaw and cut us up for not being able to get him to talk.
A rough quote from my advisor:

"Okay. I'm going to be harsh now. But you're strong; you can take it."

I just really feel like it's a crapshoot with this whole advising thing. And workshop thing.

I love, love, love your work. So there, Joanna's advisor!

Also: DBQ said something disparaging about blogs in class the other day, and my heart sank.
Once, my advisor told me that my writing made him want to fly across the room and choke me. Then, in another session, he mouthed the word "bitch." Actually, he went "I almost wanted to call you a (bitch)"

And I was all, You're damn lucky you didn't.

and that's how I feel about advising.
ah, sympathy ploys. hehheh, i'm totally shameless and needy. but not repenting a little bit.

I can't believe an advisor mouthed the word bitch, mLady. you're just too tough for nails, let's take it as a compliment. my comments are less damning: the whole kill-you-with-a-certain-guiding-love thing.

we should start a "and my heart sank" teacher/advisor-comment poem or something?
it's funny that you said "tough as nails" b/c I'm currently writing an essay about a nail.....whoa.

now I'm going to read your new posts.
see, things is strange like that.
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