Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Unemployment Chronicles: The Great American Novel

Despite the crippling unemployment, I'm trying to keep a bit busy. As I posted last week, a good part of my day during the week is spent looking for employment. I'm doing less reading and writing in my evenings than I feel I should be doing. Being unemployed has led to the discovery of a truckload of shows I probably wouldn't notice, and a whole network (Channel 250 on my dial) which shows nothing but hour long documentaries about serial killers. Seriously. 24 hours a day. I don't even know what the name of the network is, but its "DTMS" in my cable info. Watch more than one of these in a row, and you'll find yourself tucked into a ball in a corner and weeping for the evil that brews in the heart of man.

I wish I spent more time writing. At one point in my life I'd started something of a lengthy prose thing, but I cant ever seem to really get going past the first major story turning point. I think I can understand the appeal of writing workshops at this point. Forcing you to turn in pages at least keeps you going, even if its not in the right direction. You can't just freeze up and start second guessing yourself, nor can you tell yourself "it's going to be awesome... if I ever finish it" because you've got pages out and feedback coming in.

The funny thing is that it's something I've touched on and off since college, and while the beginning and end have always been pretty solid in my mind, as well as many of the characters, it still hasn't exactly gushed out onto the page. Even funnier to me is that the story does take place in a pretty specific time and place when I started writing it, and I'm glad I have a few tidbits in there, like the price of certain items such as the $2.00 caps you used to be able to buy at Fiesta, because it reminds me of details of my 20's that I'm pretty sure would otherwise now be gone forever. It also takes place pre-cellphone, and just as the world was becoming networked and computers moved into the workplace on everyone's desk, and its hard (already) to remember what it was like to find a phone. Or that answering machines used to have tapes in them.

While I'm unemployed, I should really take a greater stab at it, but part of me is also older and more cynical than when I started. Not that it effects the story, but I'm no longer graced with the college-kid naivete and ego that makes you think you're going to be the next big thing. 10 years on, I know now that I'm not some undiscovered diamond in the rough. I'm a dude, like 6 billion other dudes, and even if I finish some "book", it doesn't mean anyone would want to pay for the privilege of reading a word I wrote. I think five years of losing money on LoM is evidence enough that if you build it, nobody will come.

But it seems like a good goal. Finish what you start. Let the characters at least finish the journey you started instead of leaving them hanging at the end of the first act. Give them some closure, if not yourself.

And, more than anything... how many words do I need to burn online criticizing the work of others but being too sheepish to make anything myself?

Anyway, I guess I'll go off and take a look at this thing again. It isn't going to write itself.

6 comments:

Steanso said...

Have you ever considered doing that book as a graphic novel? Might be interesting...
(not saying that there's anything wrong with the portions I've read, but funny books are sort of your thing, and I like your art)

The League said...

As long as it takes to write something, it takes far, far longer to draw it. One step at a time.

rhpt said...

You should just publish the LoM in bookform. I'd buy it!

The League said...

You may also send me $9.99 annually, and consider that premier membership in the LoM.

Carla said...

I'll buy your book!

The League said...

then I shall have to finish it, so I can collect my $8.99 for the paperback from you.