There is a possibilty that I am:
A) Terribly shitty as an author
B) Driven to write out of narcissism.
I went searching for writing excercises this evening, and all of them turned me off. All of them ask what you smell, hear, see, taste etc.
"You are being kept in a basement by a lonely man who you were only nice to because he seemed desperate, and who you probably shouldn't have let give you a ride, should have noticed that his nails had a small amount of grease under them, indicating he, and not cruel providence, sabotaged your car's engine. You haven't eaten in thirty-two hours, and you are certain that if you don't kill him, the baby you found out you were carrying a week ago will die.
Describe your baby. Give him/her a name. What will he she look like if only you can bring yourself to beat your capture with a board from the bed you are sleeping on?"
Only not as interesting or engaging.
I love reading about writing and watching movies about writers, and imagining myself having written something. I have a rusted black filing cabinet full of botched attempts, a hard drive of promising starts, and the weight of too many failed attempts on my head. Every time I read about an author who started writing before the age that I am, it makes me mournful. Norman Mailer was impossibly young when he wrote The Naked and the Dead.
Why even write novels anymore? For serious. The form has been pronounced dead too many times to count. The idea of telling one story for more than 30 or so pages seems antiquated and cute, like a butter dish or radio plays or the comedy of the late George Burns. Sustained reading is a skill that has fallen into disrepair; character studies and quiet, contemplative novels feel like a waste of time. But when you find a good one, one that engages and astounds you, your fervor for the novel returns.
I am having trouble focusing on one thing. A month ago I was wild for learning Greek, and then I decided that I needed to get into shape, and then I was certain I needed to write, which led to more reading, but I couldn't possibly finish anything. I am halfway through, in not particular order: White Noise, The 158 pound marriage, The Catcher in the Rye, A Man in Full, and Crash by J.G. Ballard. And I doubt I'll finish any of them.
What was I dithering on about? The novel? What?
Oh yes, that old thing. You begin with someone faceless, I do, anyway, someone with a simple name, doing something simple. To quote Kurt Vonnegut, "characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time". This initial step feels like a game of mad libs played by statisticians: terribly bland. took the out of the and began to them. From this, I describe what she is verbing, why she is doing so, what importance this act has in her daily routine. Once I run out of gas with that (a woman can shell peas for only so long, after all) someone comes into the room to tell her something shocking. That information is unexpected, based on the first part of the story; it should hit you like a truck full of dildos.
I ride this for as long as I can. I get lost in a long string of dialogue, get turned around, and then have nowhere to go when the coversation ends. The next day, I sit down to the desk. The story is different. I try to mate the two stories in captivity and the whole thing just dries up and blows away.
The ideas and plots that really interest me moulder untold, because it would be almost too painful to do them injustice.
A gay teen in a small town is found delirious in the midst of a party he wasn't invited to. He is crying and attempting to flush a couch, piece by piece, down a toilet.
A failed psychiatrist, a drug-addicted prodigy, and a deformed woman drive across New York State, attempting to dispose of the body in their trunk.
An aesthetic cult begins raising the price of their sacramental garments, forcing their followers to destroy their leader
In the future, a simple man proves to be immune to the mental attacks of an alien species, who kill by driving humans to insanity.
A disease that deforms, but doesn't kill, leads to a civil rights movement for its victims.
An assassin that only dispatches animals is hunted by other assassins, for sport.
A blind woman must come to grips with her son's death and the fact that her sight seems to be reappearing.
A group of adults return to their home town to confront the death of their benefactor, but can't decide what he meant to them.
For those of you who can write, feel free to borrow or steal. That second took five years to get to that point, to that short synopsis. It occupies five folders in my filing cabinet and would burn for almost eight minutes, if single lit wooden match was placed on top on it and no additional fuel was soaked into the pages, just typewriter ink and paper and far too many side characters and stray plots that I tried to smash into a coherant story.
Me, I'll be waiting for something. I wish I knew what.