Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Writing for One's Viewing Audience?

TIME Magazine recently compiled what the writer's to be the "100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present." Most have been made into movies making it easier for high school and college English students to explore these classics from their sofa. The spine remains unbroken.

My second creative writing professor told me my style was more movie tie-in and less literary after reading my first story for the class. My characters, he said, were flat and stereotypical. The story was plot-driven like an action movie, and ended without any change to the central character. He went on to lecture the class on the importance of character development, something that cannot be accurately depicted on the big-screen. My entertainment RSS feeds and history say the opposite.

Now showing, Everything is Illuminated and Jarhead. Coming to a theater near you in '06 and '07, Running With Scissors and The Corrections. Nothing about these books is action-packed. Their plots rely soley on the audience's relationship with narrator. Someone is pulling off the impossible in Hollywood if this style of writing cannot be visually portrayed.

This literary visualization, while bringing the larger, movie-going, non-reading audience into the new writing movement could be a step ahead of the writers of the movement.

As the media start to look, sound, and read like each other, writers could be writing for a potential viewing audience instead of readers. The use of language and description could fall through the cracks. The literary cult will run and hide inside coffee houses among other elitest and punks. Hopefully, they can scatter in groups and revolutionize the future two steps ahead of itself.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

De-Generation X

I don't know if one can resign the definition of an era/generation. Midnight reaches in through my open windows, cannot claim what has already been volunteered, and retreats to protect that which personifies everything solitary and endless between sunset and sunrise.

During the waking hours, most hold respectable jobs, I either hold myself, toy with my keyboard, or read in the bathroom holding my arms up as dogs come and go looking for attention. Lately, my bathroom solidarity has been polluted with the ghosts of other's dark lives. From the dark, a hero emerges. A hero within us all, a hero we are all incapable of being because we are too alone to feel alone.

Sylvia Plath, Augusten Burroughs, J.D. Salinger, and now Denis Johnson all Calvin Klein -black icons. Pyscho-suicidal 3rd person perspectives into their own demons and 6 degrees of seperation from each of us; roses bloom best in potted shit - the odor of the unnecessary glorifies the aroma of beautiful life in a halo of perspective.

Why do novels like the Da Vinci Code and Harry Potter sell better than this sewer culture? The angels and demons can be seen, not just felt. The only villain in the underground sleeps alone. In the hero's bed.

Fine lines: love & hate, friends & enemies, God & Satan. The bestsellers are defined by how thick the gray line is between good and evil. Literature is the absence of that gray line. It is the white space between inkpen letters. The conflict: the void seperating each line of text...accumulated throughout the entire book. You explain the empty pages after the conclusion and epilogue. Life goes on.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Filling Out the Application - If I Can't Write a Bestseller, at least I Can Sell Them

I don't know what was more humbling, asking for a job application at my first bookstore, or filling the damned thing out. For the five years I was employed by Barnes & Noble, I spent much of my downtime at the customer service desk looking through and laughing at the applications we would receive hourly. Filling one out today for Waldenbooks, I felt nervous about each my answers - even my name.

The job is anything but a long-shot. Three of my former co-workers still work there. The new manager loved my brother when he worked there, after I left, six years ago. I have a college degree now. I don't want to rely on my past history with that store or the business even. I'd like to believe my skills speak for themselves. The defensive voice in my head, though, takes the imaginary interview into a suicidal depression.

On the application, I had to explain why I've spent the last two months unemployed. "Sought only writing-career opportunities" is only the obvious justification. I didn't want to get back into retail. I didn't want to work with food. I wanted to work with my writing degree, my fingers, and a keyboard; not customers. Why am I still unemployed, because I have no experience. All I know is retail. All I know the book industry. But, I think I can write. Shouldn't that be enough?

Nope. So, I finished the application. I hope that small staff of familiar faces will remember mine and think better of laughing at it. I hope they see my college experience as a good thing for the business and not a pathetic sight on a part-time, bookseller application.