August 7th, 2010


"Where'd it go, all that precious time?"

Cooler and, more importantly, less humid, here in Providence. I actually had to put on a sweater this morning. We had several days of hot, spectacularly humid weather, so this comes as a relief.

Today, I very much need reader comments, if only to help me stay grounded. Thank you.

Not a lot of progress on the book though. On Thursday, I wrote 1,081 words, about normal for me, for any given day. But then yesterday, a combination of self doubt and misbehaving blood pressure (thank you, meds) left me such a mess that I only wrote 14 words (I shit you not). Today, I'll try to do better.

But the truth is, almost a year after conceiving of the story that has, eventually, become The Drowning Girl, and just a couple of months shy of the two-year anniversary of having finished The Red Tree, it isn't going well. It's hardly going at all. Do I know why? I have a bucketful of conjecture, but no, I don't know for sure. I only know it's put me in a truly terrifying place.


Lots of thoughts yesterday on convention in novels. Conventions in first-person narratives. Such as, how so few readers pause to consider the existence and motivations of the "interauthor." When you're reading a first-person narration, you're reading a story that's being told by a fictional author, and that fictional author— or interauthor —is, essentially, the central character. Their motivations are extremely important to the story. The simple fact that they are telling the story, in some fictional universe, raises questions that I believe have to be addressed by first-person narratives. Why is the interauthor writing all this down? How long is it taking her or him? Do they intend it to be read by others? Is it a confessional? Reflection? A warning? Also (and this is a BIG one), what happens to the interauthor while the story is being written, especially if it's a novel-length work of fiction?

In my case, it takes anywhere from a few months (The Red Tree, Low Red Moon) to years (my other novels) to write a novel. I assume this is the case for most people who sit down to write something that's seventy- to one-hundred-thousand words long. These are not campfire tales. These are major undertakings by their interauthors. So, the narrators stop and start writing the documents over and over and over while it's being written. But rarely are we shown what happens to her or him while the story is being told (Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves is a brilliant exception, and sure there are other exceptions). Some things will almost certainly occur that are important enough that they will intrude upon the narrative.

A first-person narrative occurs in a minimum of two time frames: the present (when the story is being written down) and the past (when the story occurred).

And it baffles me that so few readers or writers pause to consider these facts, and that so few authors address these problems in the text. A first-person narrative is, by definition, an artifact, and should be treated as such. Rarely do I use the word "should" when discussing fiction writing.

The other thing I thought about a lot yesterday was the convention of chapters, especially as it applies to first person and the interauthor. Does the interauthor actually bother dividing her story into chapters, especially if she's only writing for herself? If so, why? It seems patently absurd to me. She might date each section of her manuscript. She might divide sections with hash tags or asterisks. But chapters? No. That's absurd.

If I can ever get The Drowning Girl written, it may have no chapter divisions. To use them would be a ridiculous adherence to convention that makes no sense within the context of the artifact of the story.

One more thing: Most readers do not want to read books that are, to put it bluntly, smarter than they are. Such readers get very pissed, and resentful, and interpret their emotional reactions as a mistake or shortcoming on the part of the author (transference). This phenomenon will never cease to amaze and confound me.


Last night, we watched Sam Raimi's Drag Me To Hell (2009). It was appropriate to kid night: over-the-top goofy camp. Not sure if I liked it or not. It was fun, I suppose. Spooky probably liked it better than I did. For me, it was the sort of film I mostly enjoy while I'm watching it, but pretty much forget as soon as it's over. We also watched another episode of Nip/Tuck. We finished Season Two on Thursday night. And I have to say, the last episode of Season Two is one of the best, most-harrowing hours of television I have ever seen. I'm very glad I didn't give up on this show halfway through Season One, as I almost did.

Not much reading. It's almost impossible for me to read fiction while trying to write a novel.

And now...another fucking day...