Monday, June 26, 2006

The Novel:

Some people who read this blog, know how I write.

Very short, terse little lines. The English language is butchered. It is very quick, lacking adjectives and adverbs. No big description. You never know what people are wearing. Every sentegraph is a basic attempt to encapsulate an entire Dickens paragraph in one line.

I do not think it is minimalist. Minimalism is something else: or MINIMALISM NEXT GENERATION.

These are the authors listed in Wikapedia: "Minimalist authors include the following: Raymond Carver, Chuck Palahniuk, Bret Easton Ellis, Ernest Hemingway, Amy Hempel, Bobbie Ann Mason, Tobias Wolff, Grace Paley, Sandra Cisneros, Mary Robison, and Frederick Barthelme.

The Irish author Samuel Beckett is also known for his minimalistic plays and prose."

I think I write even less than them, a lot less.

So here was my problem.

I kept trying to write a novel, something around 200 pages. Because trying to use word count on what I write was pointless because in 90 pages I might only come up with 10,000 words.

So I have to count pages.

To people that do not know, when a book is page set it comes out longer. I'm not sure of the ratio: but The Condemned typed double spaced, Time New Roman, 12 font comes out to 150 pages in Microsoft word. When put it into book it came out to over 300.

So my goal is to get 200 pages on Microsoft word.

I kept trying, I kept failing.

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better."

The problem was I think, was that I was looking at short novels to figure out how to format my books.

But then I realized, if I'm using say 1/4th the space of a normal writer to have a scene and ideas displayed. Then what I need to format the book like I'm writing something 600 to a 1000 pages long.

Another thing that posed a problem was that I had realized what characters I've been working with.

When The Human War came out, several people wrote and came up to me and said, "Noah, you write about lower class people, that girl lives in a trailer."

I didn't write that the girl lived in a trailer to make some kind of statement. That day of the Iraq War I was in a trailer, plain and simple. Nothing philosophical about it. The girl in I clean in Silence, lived in a trailer.

I was and have always been writing about the people I know and myself. It is not really intentional that the settings involve trailers, apartments, shitty houses, and crappy cars. That is my world, it is all I know, so that is what comes out.

But I had no real literature to base that off of, I could get vignettes out of our weird depressing behaviors but not a novel. How to write a novel about someone who doesn't have much money, is American in the modern era, basically lives a boring life with no plot etc. There aren't many books like that.

The problem basically setting: usually in books a settings are dramatic, or are exciting in their own right, like a war novel, a novel taking place in NYC, a novel that takes place in high school. A novel that takes place in NYC after 9-11. A travel novel; The novel has built in excitement to work with. It is different with the setting is a nameless town that no one visits unless they have relatives there.

But in the last year I've read Germinal by Zola, Pimp by Iceberg Slim, and This Very Earth by Erskine Caldwell.

Now if you combine that will with long books The Possessed by Dostoevsky, The Naked and The Dead by Norman Mailer, and now I'm reading Executioner's Song by Mailer, it kind of works like this: There are a bunch of little tragedies, these tragedies aren't really plot, but they do culminate not in one giant tragedy, but a bunch of big ones happening to several people. Then a couple people die, some end up living but even in more horrible conditions, and some end up escaping.

I don't know if this will work, it is just a theory for now:

Bukowski had similiar characters, he wrote basically like Kerouac: There are some scenes involving certain characters and a certain setting, then he goes on to another setting with different characters. Women, Post Office, and Ham on Rye are like that.

I don't think i can do that because Bukowski seemed to be like a drama-queen with a mommy complex who would get himself into trouble all the time. Like in my world, a Bukowski type person would have the phrase said about them, "What the hell is that asshole doing now?"

I'm not very dramatic, i do hang out in dive bars, Denny's, strip joints, etc. But i'm not the guy who gets drunk and fucks all the bitches and then punches some guy out. Then hooks up with a some crazy narcissist who is drunk all the time and hits him with frying pans. I know guys like that, but i'm not. I think i have social anxiety disorder. I can go places and sit if there aren't too many people in the room. Like i cooked at a strip club one night for a big event. I had to sit in the kitchen all night because the people made me so nervous even though i only made like three meals.

I don't talk much. Everyone describes me as shy and "Adorable." I hear that constantly, "noah is so adorable."

Unless i'm drunk i don't really talk. And all i do when i'm drunk is dry hump women in bars. Not like suck face and dry hump: I just run over to her and start dry humping her butt while giggling. Or if i get drunk while i'm sad i sit in the bar in complete silence not talking to anyone, then go home and listen to Stevie Ray Vaughn until i pass out.

I do not think i'm interesting or special in anyway. I don't know why i wrote all this, and don't know if anyone cares, but only 43 people on average look at my blog a day so who cares.


Anonymous said...

I don't have blogger account, so I have to post anonymously, but my name's Greg and I read your blog pretty regularly.

Anyway, I'm not going to give you any advice about how to plot a big novel, but I will respond to what sounds like a lot of artistic frustration on your part.

Every writer has a comfort zone with the type of scenes they know they can do well, and they tend to stick to that for a while until it starts boring them. You're trying to grow beyond your comfort zone as a writer, and you're finding out how hard that is.

The thing is, you're a young guy. You have all the time in the world to develop in whatever direction you want as writer. There's no reason for you to beat up on yourself just because you've run into an artistic roadblock. If you don't want to pigeonhole yourself as minimalist, then feel free to experiment with larger paragraphs and fuller descriptions. Why not? It's your life and it's your art. Just because people like the way you've written in the past, doesn't mean they won't like what you write if you try something new.

You got years and years to figure it all out.

Gene said...


i am almost finished with the condemned.

bear parade book this week, sometime. i think.

chapman said...

does a "novel" accomplish something that you like a lot, as opposed to a shorter thing like "human war"?

is there something about novels that you wish you could do, that you think you aren't actually doing now?

or do you just feel like you're supposed to write longer books?

Anonymous said...

Dude, the Time Machine is shorter than most of your books. Don't sweat it.


tom l said...

I've always written exactly what I wanted to write, just that, and nothing more. I don't give a fuck if it corresponds to any existing form or what anybody thinks. The world is big enough for everything. If you don't do what YOU do, why even bother?

Of course, you're a published author who has an interest in what is publishable, and I am not and don't, but my advice to you is to create your own mold and make your own legend.

I once knew a guy who studied Raymond Chandler's novels so thoroughly that he was able to write a thoroughly original Raymond Chandler novel. I never got the point of that.

someday some poor shmuck will want to be the next Noah Cicero ...

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My Blog said...

So I have to count pages.