Process Letter to My Advisor 2.3October 14, 2007
I’m sending this to you before I hop on the plane to the Atlantic Center for the Arts residency. I’ll be there for three weeks. I think I come back the day our next packet is due. Weird. After that I fly back to LA and immediately drive to Buffalo. I think we will get there around the 10th of November. A real home, finally. Oh and yes, the new loft space is finally done. We could move in next week if I wasn’t going to the residency… but oh well. It’ll be good for me to have three weeks of dedicated writing time with no weird transitory housing distractions, family obligations, or boyfriend. How have you been?
I’ve never been a big Joni Mitchell fan. I think she’s interesting as a person, but have never really gotten in to her. I’ve been listening to a lot of Rufus Wainwright lately. It’s just easy to listen to and good for driving. We actually had tickets to see him do the Judy Garland show at the Hollywood Bowl when we first got down to LA (I know, how gay! Who knew?), but it took us longer to drive down the coast than we thought… so we missed it and had to sell them on eBay. Other than that I’ve been listening to a lot of low-tech electronica. I have a number of friends who are musicians and doing this kind of stuff. I have a soft spot for music made by friends…
Things are going better. I’ve gotten into a kind of routine here. Oh, but you are mistaken! LA has no soul. Maybe you saw a Hummer stretch limo and mistook that for a soul? It can happen. Actually I like LA a lot… but I like being able to visit and not live here. My LA doesn’t have much to do with the Palisades or Gruman’s Theater, although the last time I was at Gruman’s I saw a man get stabbed by a person in a Scream costume (no really). Talk about postmodern. We saw the tail end of it and didn’t realize we were witnessing a real attack, didn’t find out until we saw it on the nightly news. The theater hires people to wear movie costumes and walk around outside. One of the characters freaked out and tried to kill some homeless guy about something… Creepy.
The LA I am living in is a tiny cardboard house in a gated community. It is right next to a huge water and power steam plant and bordered by those big industrial pumps that they pump oil out of the ground with (like in movies). There’s a large drainage ditch that runs all the gray water away from the power plant and dumps it into the ocean, which is about a mile away. Because of this ditch, all of these homes are considered waterfront property and worth millions of dollars. If I look out my window I see rows of smoke stacks. Ah, California.
I do like LA. It’s sort of romantic with all the desert art deco and the desolate bordered by the lush. I just have a hard time feeling anything or being motivated to do anything here. It steals all my will to do anything. I think it’s the sameness… how everything is kind of the same in that strip mall way. The weather is always the same. It robs me of some sort of immediacy. I have a hard time knowing if I’ve been here a week or a year. It’s like a cultural hyper amnesia. I like the museums, and going out to clubs once in a while can be fun… but they just make me feel old and I’m not a huge fan of drinking… especially when drinks are so expensive. The beach is nice. I guess when I say LA has no soul I mean I can feel it stealing mine. Most people here are nicer than you’d expect them to be, but I’m always shocked at how conservative people are. I guess I always had this preconceived notion before living here. LA is crazy and out there! …and it definitely is, but people are really conservative and republicany… in ways you wouldn’t expect. I guess money rules. I’m spoiled.
So on to my packet. Here is approximately fifteen new pages of creative work that continue the chapter from the bathroom scene. I cut some stuff at the last minute that didn’t work, but hopefully smoothed out the cuts some so they shouldn’t be too obvious. I’m not sure it works by itself (divorced from the other part of the chapter), but I think the chapter works together as a whole. Let me know if you agree. This chapter was extremely labor intensive for me (and hard… I’m not sure why). I had to take it apart and reassemble a number of times to get the structure the way I needed it. I don’t normally work this way… and looked at it way too much in too short of a period of time, so I am having a hard time seeing it objectively. This is the last chapter in this story before the structure changes. I wanted to have some resolution, without making it feel resolved. It’s hard to explain. I think part of it was just feeling the pressure of trying to get the structure/end of scenes right before I move on.
I don’t think I’m ready to start the next section yet. It feels like the character needs to breath and I need to stew on it more. Maybe I should go back and start the Stalking America storylines next? That would give me a better understanding of where the story as a whole is going. You said that I should make the S.A. parts more real. I agree… but easier said than done. How do I do that? You also wanted me to change them out of my main character’s voice. I would really like to try to find a way to keep it in his voice for structural reasons (and that fits more with what I’m trying to do with the story), but how do I make it feel immediate and engaging? Do you have any ideas, or do I just need to abandon that? I just think if I could figure out a way, it would be interesting. I like that structurally the story of this kid becomes more inhabited when the kid is talking about some TV show he likes. It is a voyage away from that. That says something to me. Then the story I’m telling is of the change from TV to something more. Does that make sense? I wish I was a better writer… If you think this is honestly a bust, tell me, but if so I’m not really sure how to proceed. I need specifics about how to approach it. Like I said, I think I need to give the kid’s storyline a breather and work on something else, otherwise it will sound too much the same as what I’ve already done. I want the next part to feel different as he starts out again.
Thanks for the feedback about my last creative work. Can you explain what you mean by riff? I basically know, but I think I need to hear it. Yes, the town is Clitter! Heh. Maybe he’s got sex on the brain or maybe not. I’ll let it stay until my next round of revisions and see if it still jumps out too much. I have really bad hearing so am constantly hearing words wrong… so that’s where those little details come from. Maybe the town is called Clitter or maybe that’s just what he thinks he heard.
P 118 – The italics part is him sort of daydreaming and trying to imagine how she might talk, but is also him kind of making fun of her in a way to himself.
P 119 – The little sentences are kind of a way for me to break things up, because sometimes I feel like my sentences are to flowy and surface… so I’m trying to break that and stop my thoughts a bit… I think it works in some places, but I’m not married to it in any of the places you mention.
So that’s where I stand. I hope you are doing well and I’ll talk to you soon.