04 June 2017

LaLa Land

Flying over the geometry of the Mississippi River. But where am I going?
Oh. Must be L.A. But why?
Daughter's MSW from USC! Congrats! So Proud!
Forever Felix!
And this must be Santa Monica!
Colorful ruins of Santa Monica.
That DTLA feeling.
Hiking behind the Hollywood sign.
Western Hikes are different.
Reward? Meh.
"But, Doc!" 
Drunk or merely recumbent. DTLA, again.
Too pretty to eat, Nobu Malibu (edible flowers, yo!). Celebratory dinner.
At sunset, no less! Chillier than you'd think.
Like I said, Western hiking is different. Bloom above Malibu!
Canyons (technically in the city).
Train Station, DTLA.
Leaving LA under a cloud. But where am I going?
Santa Fe? Is this New Mexico? And who is this Saint Fe you speak of?
No! It's the home of the Fathers! Petco Park.
San Diego. Whale's vagina or post-modern Kafka-esque hellscape?
SD Zoo was a bit disappointing, as are most zoos. But where else can you see a sad Mandrill so close?
Or a magnificently odd Giant Anteater?
La Jolla Cove, after diving with sea lions, banded guitar fish, horned shark, & Garibaldi in a kelp forest preserve.
And close out the trip with field level seats for a Padres game! (Fathers gave up 8 runs in the top of the 1st. Beer was good, though!)

01 June 2017

Let's Talk Process

One of the most frequent questions you hear when you attend a Q & A session after a reading by a novelist goes something like this: "What was your creative process in writing this novel?" Here's mine for my just-completed manuscript of what I'm calling AUTO-DA-FÉ.

AUTO-DA-FÉ is the story of an aimless Southern boy who seeks to find his life's meaning with an extremist militia group intent on fomenting a revolution at the turn of the 21st Century.You might describe it as a sort of anti-Forest Gump.

I knew from the start how I wanted to end the novel and had a working title that captured the aim. And I knew I wanted to depict the underground origins and rise to the mainstream of what we now call the alt-right. To do so, I had to analyze both my protagonist's motivations and the history of these right-wing groups and then dramatize them. I had a timeline of historical facts and a psychological profile. Themes emerged and coalesced. Plots formulated. Chapters flowed.

To account for the increasingly shortening attention spans of today's social media drenched audience, I chose to write short sections—2-5 pages—within reasonably short chapters for the most part. This helped with both dramatization and concision of thought and expression.

I belong to a group of committed writers who listen to and comment on each other's works in progress. At some point about a quarter way through the drafting process, I started bringing earlier sections to the group. This provided me a structure for recursively editing previous portions of the book to maintain consistency with the directions I found the narrative taking.

This last point is important. It means that the completed draft I have now is much more advanced than a first draft.

Above is a picture of the manuscript I just printed out. Note that it is on three-hole punch paper. Note also the section dividers; there's one for each chapter.

Here are the basic facts of the manuscript:

• 278 Typed Pages
• 85,426 Words
• 23 Chapters

I've inserted the typescript into a locking D-ring binder. My plan is to read the novel straight through, cover to cover, just as I would any other novel. I do this for continuity's sake.

Up to this point, I've been drafting, editing, and revising successive chapters on my computer one at a time. This next step is to ensure the entire book is consistent and non-repetitive. To follow the narrative through-line. To gauge the pacing. To assess the structural/emotional feel of the whole.

As I go along I will make my changes on paper with my trusty Sanford Uni-Ball Deluxe Micro (pictured above). Then later, when I've finished, giving the manuscript one last going over, I will input the changes I've made onto the (stripped down, no bells and whistles) MicroSoft Word for Mac (Version 15) computer file. Lastly, I will run a SpellCheck. At that point, perhaps by mid-summer, my book will be ready for submission.

Comments? Questions?