Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Poem for today

It's been one of those weeks that makes you wonder about the state of humanity. That sounds overdramatic.

Here's a poem for today by Allen Ginsberg.

An Eastern Ballad

I speak of love that comes to mind:
The moon is faithful, although blind;
She moves in thought she cannot speak.
Perfect care has made her bleak.

I never dreamed the sea so deep,
The earth so dark; so long my sleep,
I have become another child.
I wake to see the world go wild.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Novel progress

I hit 200 pages today, which feels really good. I'm getting close to some kind of a climactic showdown in the story, which is going to be complicated. I'm hoping I can get the book to 250 pages, which I think is a respectable length for a first novel.

I'm heartened by a novel I'm reading - The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin. It's less than 200 pages long, and it's been wildly successful. I think the classic novel Heart of Darkness is also about that length. So I'm in good company, even if I end up with a short-ish first novel. Ultimately, it's not the length of the thing that matters, of course, but I'm always intimidated when I pick up a tome that's more than 500 pages long, and I wonder - how the hell did this author write that much? In some cases, obviously, like pulp fiction, a lot of it is written from a formula. But there are a lot of authors out there with enormous imaginations - Frank Herbert comes to mind - who can just churn out thousands of pages worth of brilliance (mixed with incomprehensible crap).

Anyway - I'm getting there. I can honestly say at this point that I have a novel, and that I'm going to finish it.

I might post another excerpt of it soon.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I had a little dreidel

Happy Chanukah to one and all.

Novel progress has been stalled this week by various abstract "busyness." I'm going to try to write a lot more of it this weekend, since we're evidently going to be enjoying some lovely sleet, freezing rain, snow, and other unpleasantness.

Here's a sweet poem for today by the late, great, e. e. cummings, who may have been a raving lunatic and an antisemite, but he was also a literary innovator the likes of which the world rarely sees.

i carry your heart with me

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Excerpt from "The Shooter Vanished" (working title)

EDIT 1/31/12: This scene appeared in a now-tossed first draft.  Enjoy it as a one-off, but don't expect it to appear as a part of the final project.

Here's a small taste of my novel-in-progress, tentatively titled The Shooter Vanished. I've still got a lot of writing left to do - the novel currently stands at a very slim 178 pages, and I intend to get it to 250 at least. NANO really doesn't give you a novel at the end - it gives you a dime store paperback and a kick in the pants to put more meat on it.

I want to have the initial draft of the thing finished by January - that's my current goal. Initial draft by January, editing done by March or April, finalized by summer, published and making me millions by early 2011. Not ever having done this sort of thing before, of course, means that those dates are entirely arbitrary. Like Douglas Adams said,

"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."

So without more ado, here's something to whet your appetite.

Chapter 27
Michael was walking past Powell's bookstore. He was feeling a bit disoriented. He'd had another one of his mystery episodes – flashing lights, dizziness, a quick blackout. They'd been coming more frequently recently, and now they were accompanied by weird hallucinations. As he looked up at the marquee, he was absolutely astonished to see the name of the author who was up in the Pearl Room doing a signing at that very moment. Henry Garson?? After all these years of searching, of justice denied, of the pain of crushing loss destroying his spirit daily, could this be the moment when Michael finally got his revenge? Beyond which, what the hell was Garson doing out in public being featured and promoted by a major bookstore? The bastard had been in hiding for so long that Michael thought the world might have forgotten about him, especially after the controversy that had followed his acquittal in the murder trial.
Michael walked into Powell's. Some things didn't look quite right, and there were several book titles that made no sense to him, but Michael dismissed this as just being a symptom of the fact that he hadn't actually been into a bookstore in ages.
He ducked into the men's room and locked himself into a stall. He took out his pistol, which he had had to start carrying with him at all times just for his own peace of mind, and checked to make sure it was loaded. He wanted to see the look on that bastard Garson's face as he ended Garson's life, just as Garson must've looked straight into Jasmine's eyes before murdering her in cold blood.
Shit. He was having another episode. The world went swimmy, started to melt around the edges. Michael had been to quite a few doctors over the past few weeks, but none of them had been able to explain what the hell had been happening to him. Now, here it was, happening again. At a most inconvenient time, actually.
He sat down on the toilet, closed his eyes, and waited for the world to resolve itself again. There was the flash of light. He opened his eyes again. The world reasserted itself into his vision. He shook off the dizziness, stood up, and put his gun back in its holster nestled under his left arm and well-concealed under his finely tailored wool blazer. He brushed the wrinkles out of his slacks, opened the stall door, and walked over to the mirror. He looked at himself. His eyes were a little bit bloodshot, with black smears under them from the sleep he hadn't been getting enough of recently. He studied the ugly scar on his face, from a jagged beer bottle swung at him several years before. He opened his mouth, grinning at himself, checking for food between his teeth. Satisfied that his teeth were clean, he addressed his attire. If he was going to do this revenge thing, he wanted to do it while he was looking his classiest.
His gray wool slacks were immaculate, the careful crease in them undamaged by the walking he'd done to get here. His Italian loafers were shiny and polished. His maroon cashmere turtleneck draped across his slim form perfectly, and the color exactly complemented his black sport coat.
Michael took pride in his appearance, and used it to his advantage in his line of work.
Satisfied that he was appropriately dressed for his revenge, Michael walked out of the men's room, found the elevator, and started to take it up to the Pearl Room.
As the elevator doors opened, the world started to melt again. Mike cursed himself, determined to shake this one off so that he could complete his revenge. As he looked around through the haze, he noticed something odd. The Pearl Room seemed to be empty. No chairs were lined up in front of a podium where Garson should have spoken before beginning the book signing. There was no podium. Mike kept walking, through the haze, convinced that this hallucination was just part of whatever was happening to him.
There was the flash, and as the world resolved itself, more quickly than it ever had, Michael was staring at Henry Garson, at his smug face, that sickly sweet smile that he used to con the world into thinking he was such a good guy, that face that had convinced a jury that there just wasn't enough evidence to convict him of Jasmine's murder.
Without even thinking about it, he took out his gun and fired. There were screams, but they were lost in a fog that was enveloping Michael. Suddenly, Michael gasped. Through the fog, through the confusion, he could swear that he saw, running toward Henry and, no, it was impossible...Jasmine??
Another flash. Michael blacked out.