Wednesday, February 17, 2010

'The Road in Culver'

First, thank you for your responses. I do think it's important to keep writing about what's going on here even though 'Bohemian Cowboy' is currently on hiatus. I feel at least, it has been captured and 'done'. And my count is forty-six. It's still somewhat amazing that a production got forty-six performances. The fact remains, however, that it never made a dime. Although I've had my down days with this show, I still have a mountain of faith in its possibility.

When I got home tonight, there was a message on my voice mail telling me again, that my play, Under the Desert is going up in Los Angeles. I won't go into to much detail until I have a production date. I will tell you that it does sound real. I'll write more on this later, as details hopefully, materialize.

Okay. Today I got more serious about getting work to get me through to the next few months. I got the name of the district office for the schools here, and plan on going tomorrow to fill out an application to substitute teach. I also set up an appointment to meet with this guy down the street who has a bar and grill to pitch some music for a couple of nights a week. I still feel like the universe is revealing just what it needs to reveal to me, and so I will follow this intuition so that I can relieve the stress of not having any more visual means of income. Substituting will give me a flexible schedule, and you won't have to hear anymore bitching about me starving to death. I would, however, like to publicly thank those of you who have given me 'time', which has been more valuable than I think, you know. I've used it, and it will pay off.

I was able to get five more pages on my memoir book written yesterday, the writing, however, has been tough. The foundation work is always the toughest part, in a memoir. I feel I need to at least touch upon my early history to have the rest of it make sense. Still, I'm excited about it as I think the writing thus far has a certain energy to it although its shocking to see in words some of the things I lived through. The great thing about an autobiographical memoir is that you can touch upon whatever you want to, and don't have to go into the gory details of everything. What I am focusing on are the events that changed the trajectory of my life. This seems to be the form that is emerging, where the 'dots' are. As with playwriting, the dots are what are important, if you have done a good job at letting them materialize, the audience can draw the lines themselves.

I've also been working on the novel, 'Short Time', my young adult fiction book. Its also going really well, however, although I think the book is fairly simple, I keep second guessing whether it is to simple. Right now, I'm refraining from going back and 'making it more edgy', as writing it seems to calm me. I'm finding that the greatest gift that simple fiction can give you is a re-introduction to grammar, and how it is used. I once did an experiment writing a short story. I wrote two short scenes using only the dialogue of the characters. After the dialogue was written, I begin filling in the dialogue with the prose. It really works well, and the dialogue really does inform the story. It’s a great exercise, and a great way to approach a short story, especially if you love to write dialogue. It also causes your story to become immediate; the story becomes what is springing to life from inside the characters rather than the exterior circumstances dictating what the story will be. Its honestly, really pretty magical. I've noticed in writing the fiction, that when I come to the end of a scene of dialogue, I am never without material for the next part of the story. Here's a little of how it works. I quickly pictured two characters speaking to each other. Here is what they say. (I'm doing this right now, and don't really know what will happen.)

"Get in the truck."

"I'd rather walk."

"Please get in the truck."

"There's no where I want to go with you."

Here's the fill in the black prose that goes with the story. Remember, the key is to write to connect the dots, the prose are the lines, the dialogue, the dots, exactly like those puzzles we used to do. If you are a writer, I would urge you to try it, if you are not a writer, you might find you are indeed a storyteller, with a very simple way of approaching a story.

Gladys and Mike had been circling the outskirts of Culver for four hours. It wasn't clear what had started the argument, in fact, it wasn't even that important to Gladys. She didn't even notice how exceedingly dark it had become, until she was walking along the dirt road, with Mike idling the truck beside her. It was a moonless night, the only thing she could clearly see were the rocks on the road where the headlights were shining.

"Get in the truck," Mike said firmly.

Gladys kept walking forward, not looking at him through the passenger window, she just wanted him to drive away and leave her to her thoughts. At the same time, she felt the tug of a pattern, a pattern so deeply ingrained in both of them that she thought she might scream if he did drive away.

"I'd rather walk," she answered.

Mike reached for his pack of cigarettes, at the same time making sure he was keeping her profile framed in the passenger window as she stepped up her pace. He cursed to himself as he found the pack empty, and quickly reached into the side pocket of the truck to see if there was another empty pack that might contain one lost cigarette.

"Please get in the truck." Mike said, this time with a little more force.

She quickened her pace, and she thought of just walking off the road into the trees. If she kept walking, she could easily be at her mother's by morning, but what would that get her? Mike cursed to himself again as he found the empty packs indeed empty, and there was not a store within three hundred miles that was open.

"There's no where I want to go with you," she said with finality.

Mike took one deep breath, put the truck in second gear and moved ahead. He hesitated, and then gently pushed down on the accelerator. He didn't want her to think the dust the truck would make was out of anger. They had been on this road before.

The prose is a little sloppy, and rather than rewrite it now, I'll let you see the technique, how it works, and really, its an exciting way to work. The words of the characters will inform the setting. It's really cool! Okay, I will leave you with Mike and Gladys, rounding out their relationship with a ritual, goodnight.

4 comments:

Chuckh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Josh said...

Dammit Raymond, write the memoirs. What else are you going to do, watch TV? Something like that you don't write to make money or to please someone else, you write it to tell your story to yourself. It'll be cathartic and clarifying.

We are in Vegas running from all the damn snow in Boulder. Jill just had her first experience on The Strip. Today we're headed into the desert of Death Valley, and hopefully upon our return to canyon country at the beginning of March all that snow will be gone!

Gerry said...

When I was younger I wrote fiction but as I got older the people I studied got into my consciousness so deep that I had to write about them, changing the names of course. Bukowski wrote his 'novels' like that all the time putting a brazen disclaimer that these characters bore no resemblance to anyone he knew, a barefaced lie, but he got away with it. I am curious to see how you get on with memoir writing. That will be a new experience for you, and I think you will love it!

Chuckh said...

I like this exercise. It works really well. Thanks for posting it. I deleted my other comment but you may have gotten it in email anyway. Good stuff!