This Is The Name Of The Blog

The Relentless Pursuit of Pretension

Decisions, Choices, and 10k words in

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I have reached a milestone of sorts for myself. I have written 10,000 words for my novel. I didn’t want to get bogged down in word count — this is my first book, and it’s not like I’m Charles Dickens (There is speculation in some circles that Dickens’s verbosity was due to his being paid by the word. Yes, I just dropped an obscure lit joke on you.) Word count helps me keep pace with what I’m doing. It gives me something tangibly intangible to hang my conceptual hat on. Ruminate on that one for a while. Seriously though, it feels good to have created 10,000 words worth of something. These 10,000 words make up a fraction of what the eventual book will be. Perhaps they are one-fifth of the book — maybe less. This post is kinda long, but stick with it — there might be a treat at the end….

I came to a realization about my writing process today. I have a best friend who is a runner; I have a close friend who has recently turned his life around, and one of the ways he’s done this is with running; I follow a lot of runners on Twitter, too. The constant with all of these people is that when they are done with a run, they tweet something along the lines of how many miles were run in how many minutes and how they felt. I wrote 1,000 words last night in about an hour-and-a-half, and I felt great. I understand their desire to tell the world about their run. I am just barely familiar with Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers: The Story of Success,” but I believe there is something connecting all of this. The book is on my summer reading list, as of now.

I’ve learned a lot about myself during this experiment, too. I want to share a few of those things here, and I want to explain a bit more about what the book is about. Or at least one facet of what the book is about.

I had another good friend ask me some really tough questions about the book. He asked what the book is about, and I answered with my stock reply: …the basic premise of which is a random playlist of 13 songs that sets into motion a series of memories that eventually lead the protagonist back to whom he believes is the love of his life. He shook his head at me. “No, what is the book ABOUT?” My brain stopped dead in its tracks. Holy crap. What is it about? Not what happens. Not what the premise is. But what does it all mean? Why can’t I find the answer to this? Then it hits me. The book is about destiny and signs. It’s about following the signs or waiting for destiny to happen to you. It’s about doing something that scares you to death because it will open parts of you that are hard to close once the deluge has begun. It’s about the difference between decision and choice. There is a difference between decision and choice. Look at the etymology of each verb associated with those two nouns: decide, choose. When you decide something, you essentially kill off the other options. Choosing something is much more freeing. You aren’t eliminating the options in front of you, you are simply choosing the one you want. Not because you don’t want the others, but because you want the one you choose. Certain aspects of pop-culture have diluted the distinct meanings, i.e: The Bachelor and American Idol. It may seem redundant, but if you really think about it, it makes sense. Do you decide to follow signs or wait for destiny? Do you choose to follow signs or wait for destiny?

Having a more focused vision, I set to writing. I’m nearing completion of my third chapter. Not Chapter 3, mind you. I am writing out of order. Also, I’ve written a short prologue. A few things I have learned: Each chapter I write is longer than the previous one; my dialogue is getting tighter; my settings are more vivid; the emotions are coming through clearer. I am actually excited to go back once this first draft is done and re-write everything.

The most recent chapter has been challenging. The book is based loosely on events and people in my life. The chapter is about a series of events with one person in particular. And it is not a particularly pleasant series of events. Reliving these experiences has been trying. The lesson here is: You have to bleed a bit for your art. If it doesn’t make you cry, it won’t make your reader cry.

This is my prologue. It is one of the first things I wrote. It is rough. It is probably rife with errors. It will be re-written 37 times. Don’t judge me too harshly based on this alone.

Prologue

I can feel myself coming out of sleep. I’m having a dream. She’s in it, like she always is, but I can’t make out what she’s doing. I open my eyes and look to my right — I don’t know what I was expecting, but she isn’t there.

She’s been gone for four months, and every morning for the last four months I’ve woken up nearly the same way: looking to her side of the bed. But it isn’t her side of the bed, anymore. The first few days — weeks maybe — I expected her to be there. After that, I just wished she would be there.

I never quite understood why it ended. Still don’t. She says she wasn’t in love with me. I said she was full of shit. I don’t know what to believe now.

All I could do to keep from running over everything in my head was to fall into a routine. Every morning, the same routine. And even now — the same routine.

I wake up in the morning and head to my door and the newspaper. I used to get the local paper, but I recently subscribed to the New York Times. I don’t know why. I barely read the entire local paper. The Times is twice as big. I guess it makes me feel better about myself — a certain level of pretentiousness inherent in the Times being on my doorstep.

Sometimes I honestly question why I even get the physical paper. Everything is available online. I can only come up with two legitimate reasons: One — I work for a small local paper as a copy-editor and so I need to support my dying business of choice; Two — there is something — I guess — romantic about the morning paper and a cup of coffee. A newspaper is tangible. The feel of newsprint on your skin is unmistakable. The slight smears of ink are like a trail of evidence, leading to information sought and gained.

I take my paper into the kitchen and drop it onto the table with a weighted thud. I grab a cup of coffee from my one-cup coffee maker and skim the paper.

Since finding my true vocational love in life — editing — it’s become hard for me to read for enjoyment. I am constantly in edit mode. I knew I had it bad when I proofread a birthday card my mom had given me. It passed.

The one thing my routine does not provide me with, is time. As much as I enjoy the morning, I am not a morning person. I get up as late as possible, but with just enough time for one cup of coffee and however long that gives me to take in the paper. Then a shower and out the door with some kind of easily transportable yet not nutritionally satisfactory breakfast bar.

But just before setting foot out the door, my random playlist must be delivered to my phone. It’s the only way I can survive the bus ride to and from the paper. It’s the only real mystery of my day. It’s a big surprise that’s with me from the moment I leave, until I walk back in my door. It makes the day unpredictable and interesting — like she used to.

As I set foot out the door, pressing play the minute I hit the stairwell, a familiar guitar chord reverberates in my ears — and I don’t know what today will bring….

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Written by Brisquett

July 26, 2011 at 10:12 pm

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For no real reason at all

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I’m not what you would call an outwardly religious person. I was raised Jewish, and if I had to label myself, it would be as an Agnostic.

Religion does intrigue me, though.

This story is from an episode of the great show, The West Wing. I don’t know if it is derived from somewhere else, but I would bet that is the case.

The story is delivered to the president by a priest who is counseling the president on whether to stay an execution. The episode is filled with religious overtones regarding capital punishment.

I’m writing a book right now — the basic premise of which is a random playlist of 13 songs that sets into motion a series of memories that eventually lead the protagonist back to whom he believes is the love of his life.

With that in mind, I have been thinking a lot about the universe, destiny, and signs (not the contemptible movie about stupid aliens that are allergic to water and yet decide to invade a planet that is 75% water, but those little hints from the universe, God, or Buddha that will — hopefully — lead you to where you want to be).

Beyond all that exposition-ary non-sense, I just really like this story.

“You know, you remind me of the man that lived by the river. He heard a radio report that the river was going to rush up and flood the town. And that all the residents should evacuate their homes. But the man said, ‘I’m religious. I pray. God loves me. God will save me.’ The waters rose up. A guy in a row boat came along and he shouted, ‘Hey, hey you! You in there. The town is flooding. Let me take you to safety.’ But the man shouted back, ‘I’m religious. I pray. God loves me. God will save me.’ A helicopter was hovering overhead. And a guy with a megaphone shouted, ‘Hey you, you down there. The town is flooding. Let me drop this ladder and I’ll take you to safety.’ But the man shouted back that he was religious, that he prayed, that God loved him and that God will take him to safety. Well… the man drowned. And standing at the gates of St. Peter, he demanded an audience with God. ‘Lord,’ he said, ‘I’m a religious man, I pray. I thought you loved me. Why did this happen?’ God said, ‘I sent you a radio report, a helicopter, and a guy in a rowboat. What the hell are you doing here?'”

Written by Brisquett

June 28, 2011 at 7:28 pm

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The First Thousand Words of Chapter 13

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I haven’t been able to get started on writing my book since I finished my outline. I still needed to decompress from being busy with school and running the paper, I guess.

Whatever the reasons for my failing, I finally got some words down tonight.

Before my outline was even done, I knew I wanted to begin with the end. I wanted to write chapter 13 first. Any good work of fiction should know where it’s going to end before it begins.

Like the title says, I wrote 1,000 words — it’s a start.

I wrote some inner monologue and some dialogue. The monologue is — ok. The dialogue is boring and a little stilted. It’s admittedly not as free-flowing as I’d like. It needs to be smarter, too. That’s what rewrites are for.

I’m just glad I got it started.

Oh, and I was watching “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” while I wrote — so thank you Wes Anderson.

Written by Brisquett

June 14, 2011 at 4:07 am

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On “Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots: The Movie” — or — Why I Occasionally Hate Hollywood

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Just as I judge books by their covers and beers by their labels — I judge movies by their trailers.

Last night, a trailer ahead of “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” was so atrocious, it may have over-taxed my judgement gland. And I have a huge judgement gland — #heyyohh.

In this movie, according to the trailer at least, Hugh Jackman is a professional robot boxer(?). Let me be clear — he is not a boxer; he is not a robot; he is barely a professional. He makes a living by controlling — via the remote control you had for that awesome Corvette you got for Xmas when you were 8 — robots that box.

Yes — in the future — people get their jollies by paying to watch a life-sized version of Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots.

Did I mention the adorable Anakin-in-Episode I-like kid? Guess What? He finds a broken down robot in the trash, and in a remarkable plot twist — fixes the robot. And what else would one do with a newly repaired robot in the future?

Robot boxing.

And of course there is a training montage ripped right out of “Rocky IV.” This begs the question — why does a robot need to train? Isn’t it already kinda — set to go? I mean, it is a robot. It’s not exactly going to gain muscle. Wouldn’t a robot-training-montage just include some guy sitting behind a computer for 17 hours programming?

And I’m not totally sure, but it seemed as though the robots had free will or some form of artificial intelligence. Which begs yet another question — why do they need to be controlled remotely?

Oh, the name of the movie is — “Real Steel.” As if that actually mattered.

Hollywood is really scraping the bottom of the barrel. I guess this is better than ruining classics like “The Karate Kid…”

A digression:

“Pirates…” was decent. It had me at vampire-mermaids, but it lost me when the vamp-maids started whipping vines out of their hands Spider-Man style. The movie was as expected, with some quotable one-liners and engrossing scenery (Penelope Cruz). My viewing companion — a devotee of the franchise — said the final line in the movie properly summed up the quadrilogy. I wouldn’t bet on this being the last one, though.

Next time on This Is The Name Of The Blog: Blog post titles that are too long — and how to avoid them.

Written by Brisquett

May 24, 2011 at 4:21 pm

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Let’s try this again

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Last Wednesday, I started a blog to chronicle my project for this summer: to write a book. Last Friday, Google Blogger took a crap and I lost the blog and my first post. I did not save my post — my fault. I could try to re-write the post here, but I would probably just muck it up. I used a slew of $20 words, and now it would just appear forced.

So, I’m just going to leave a few bullet points here to summarize the purpose of this blog:

•It will keep me accountable for writing as much as possible
•I will post some details about what I wrote that day: plot points, dialogue troubles
•I will be writing primarily in coffee shoppes, and there is always some great people-watching to report on
•And it wouldn’t be a blog if I didn’t talk about other crap I did that may or may not interest you: summer fun type stuff

In closing — and I feel as though I’m repeating myself here — I have a 1,200-word outline, 13 (technically 14) songs, and….

Written by Brisquett

May 19, 2011 at 3:05 am

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