The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Thursday, July 25, 2013

"Frankenstein Never Scared Me. Marsupials Do."

I've been in Washington DC for the past six days, at a conference, hence the absence of posts. While I was here, I had a great opportunity to rekindle old friendships--two of my favorite people form my high school years were in the City (one's a resident) and we got a chance to catch up a bit. In particular, my friend who lives in DC really laid himself out for la Caterina and myself; he took us around the City, ferried us to destinations unknown to the non-resident (you can get first rate sushi in DC!), and was able to make time to hang out.

My other friend was more busy--he was hosting a large, complex conference, and when I was unavailable the night we had dinner planned, generously invited us to attend a festive reception, where his band played--and did a fantastic job. My old friend sang lead vocals on several Springsteen songs, and, as they say, killed it.

Later in the week, my friend who lives in the city and I had a great, long rambling conversation, during which we talked about (among many other subjects) acting and our own youthful theater days. My friend slipped into an epic Christopher Walken impression at one point, which led him to refer me to this classic.

I also learned more about the death of one of our friends back in 1996, a talented actor who had been among those most welcoming to me when I joined the school drama group. May he rest in peace; we are poorer for his loss.

Finally, in addition to all this, I have been obsessively working away at my current writing project. I have no idea if it's of publishable quality, but I'm having fun with it. By which I mean, I can't stop working on the bloody thing. So let's hope it is of publishable quality, hmmm?

It's a novel, and when I first tried my hand at fiction back in the late 80s-early 90s, I was able to come up with characters readily enough, but all my projects dried up after 10 or 15 pages. I could write a short story or two, but lacked the vision, the depth of imagination to sustain the thing for more than that. My imagination was not thickly forested enough to bring an extended narrative to life. So when the idea for a novel occurred to me about six years ago, I wrote a few chapters (three to be precise), which la Caterina read and really liked, and then I promptly dried up. Then, back in April, I announced I would have another go at it, and slowly got under way again.

This time, I have not had the drying up problem that debarred me from trying to write fiction all those years ago. I didn't even write an outline until I had first drafted Chapter Twelve, and that was really just to work out how to get to the halfway point, where I want to break between Part One and Part Two. One concern I had was making the parts appropriately long for a Victorian novel (if you didn't follow the link, it's a historical political novel in the Trollopian manner) without making unsustainable demands on the reader. So I looked into word length, and have been using this helpful ready reckoner. As of a couple weeks ago, I had passed Animal Farm and then yesterday Viola Canales' The Tequila Worm,and was closing in on Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and The Crying of Lot 49. Well, we'll see how long the flood continues--but I certainly hope it does.

Because the big, seemingly daunting Frankenstein of finding a story to tell doesn't scare me; the fast, darting marsupial of getting it all to gel on the page does.

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