Monday, February 1, 2010

About that novel ...

Yeah, so, between the here and the there and the everywhere, I think I had churned out around 15,000 words of this latest version of the novel. Only, I didn't really like most of it but the beginning. The first 1,500 words. I kept plowing away at it anyway, because I am nothing if not an excellent self-flagellator, and then I got, well, subjugated would be one way to put it, by The Kidney Stones Fiasco. Then I, you know, had a little chat with myself, and I took the extra 13,500 or so words out. I looked at the 1,500 I still had, and I thought those were about right. Then I wrote another, oh, I don't know, 800 or so, maybe. Now, I like it.

It's such a weird thing, this novel. It is finally what it was always supposed to be, this novel or novella-sized version of this short story I wrote in, oh, I don't know, 2001? No, 2000, maybe. The title story of You're a Bad Man, Aren't You?. But for years, and I do mean years, I kept not really doing that, without even totally realizing that I wasn't really doing that, sort of writing it in other characters, or "going there," and then backing out, and the hemming and the hawing. Maybe, I guess, after I went back to LA in the spring of last year, something clicked. Or maybe it was after that, after I wrote "They Shoot Porn Stars, Don't They?" I was able to have a frank, silent conversation with myself, that there was only one thing about all of that that interested me, and so maybe, yeah, just maybe, if I wrote about that one true thing, then it would be right, which, long story long, sounds like how it feels. About right.

Still, after I churned out the first dollop of it -- I don't remember when, like, December? -- sure enough, I went squawking off in another direction; hence, all that crap I had to throw out. But lying here, contemplating my kidney, ruminating, but not brooding, because I figured any negative thoughts of any kind would forestall physical healing, I kind of got somewhere where doing what I needed to do was OK. Not, you know, "bad," or, like, something to be avoided, or so reprehensible I couldn't tolerate it. Then, you know, how it happens, when you're not really thinking, those teeny, tiny slivers of time when your brain gets distracted by something else, and some other secret slimy smart part of your brain decides to step up to the plate, and then you look back again, and you're like, Oh, and, I get it, and everything is clear.

It was like that, but way more boring. Or way better. Depending on how you look at it. Regardless, I am going back to what I originally said when I started doing this version of it, which is that I think this book is a novella, not a novel. That's how it feels. I don't know if it's that I can't stand it to be more than that, or I don't think anyone else could stand more than that, or if that's the way it simply is, but there you have it. It's like a pygmy pig. Or a Tic Tac. Or an IED.

I wish I could work on it more, but when I sit up for too long, my kidney aches. Why? I don't know. Longing, maybe. It's probably for the best, though, really. This is fast food. Not a steak. It's a hit and run.