Process Letter to My Advisor 3.4

April 13, 2008


How have you been? I’m starting to feel better than I was, but am still a little loopy. Thanks for the extra day though, it helped! We’ve finally had some Spring-like weather here, very sunny and warm, but then this morning I woke up to snow falling! It didn’t stick and now it’s sunny and warm out, so who knows?

For this packet I am sending four new annotations that include Dave Hickey’s Air Guitar, Haruki Murakami’s After the Quake, Ron Mueck’s show at the Warhol in Pittsburgh (that I attended a couple weekends back), and finally an annotation of David Batchelor’s Chromophobia. Next packet I’ll be back on schedule again with two, or possibly three if time permits, and the corrections on my Long Critical.

For my creative work this time around, I went back and wrote a new first chapter that bumps the old first chapter to chapter two. This new work focuses on an old visit to the father (about six years before the rest of the manuscript). Some of the events here are based on somewhat biographical material. When I was eight I rode the greyhound to visit my dad and he flipped out and accused me of trying to burn his house down, so I waited until he went for a walk and hiked back to the bus station and rode home three hours without telling anyone. Then I called my sister to come pick me up. It was very out of the blue and pretty out of character for me. That was actually the last time I saw my dad before about a year ago. There’s also a story about finding a box of ceramic heads in the garage, and being repulsed but attracted to them. I used to sneak out and play with them, but always felt there was something unwholesome about them… To this day I don’t know where they came from or how they came to be in our possession…

I was hoping to set up the question of the father a little more explicitly here. The idea was to be a mini first chapter that was about 8-10 pages and set up that storyline more before I went into the old first chapter, but it felt too truncated at that length… so I expanded it from there.

This chapter hopefully sets some of the stalking behavior up (or at least observation and spying) with the father like you mentioned before. The main character will go back to this storyline in a future chapter and expand on what was actually going on, but for here we have his visit with his father at age 11. Hopefully this begins to contextualize the Claire behavior to some extent. The stalking becomes more pronounced in his storyline later when he gets off the train too.

Now after rereading this first chapter I think that where this new chapter ends is too close to where the second chapter begins… I played with the old beginning some, but does something need to be in between? If it was film, it’d need a jump cut or something… Will that push everything back too far? I could possibly throw the Claire chapter between them, but that messes with the chronology and now suddenly the first portion of the manuscript would all be about the dad visit and Claire, instead of setting up the Home storyline and the trip… Ah, structure. Maybe it’s better to break the original first chapter into two chapters with the father visit chapter sandwiched into the middle? With that it would set up the Home mythology and set up the present day train trip, then go back in time to the father visit and the return trip on the greyhound (the new stuff from this packet), then start again with a short chapter (part two of the original first chapter) setting up the ride in the car to the train station and starting on the train ride (although now that chapter strikes me as thin). Any thoughts?


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