Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Withhold / Reveal

There are bits of dialogue from LPT that I love so much I want to share them with you, here, but I resist. My small favorites reveal too much.

Part of what I'm trying to do with this novel is instill a want of particular notion for the reader. I want any future reader to want one certain thing between characters and when I read the draft whole I can't remember if I accomplished that or not. Probably not (yet), but I was so focused on other things I can't remember all of what I needed to observe.

What I do know, now, is that my feelings are hurt and I'm about to pour a Sapphire ginger and clean my loft and think about and think about and think about LPT. Because nothing much comes of a semi-messy apartment, a badly behaved best and an unfinished novel that--in its current state--breaks my heart.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Really Miss Reading

I really, really miss reading. I haven't been doing it because I like being able to focus on my story. But now that I'm nearly finished with my outline, I might start reading again. I want to. I have an entire list of books to read.

Just realized I've complained about this before. But... It remains true.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

More Coffee, Please

Am I going to go into work an hour early with my notebook and my computer, or am I going to stay in my loft and fuck around? I've been up and trying to work and it's this stop and start dance with the plot. Damnit. I went to sleep late and woke up late with a headache and something makes me think there's not enough coffee in the world to clear this up and I can't work tonight because I've got this run-through for the fashion show and packing and cleaning and my outline isn't right yet. And I really, rrrrrrrreally want my outline to be right, because then I can continue writing and... I don't know... finish draft 2 or something.

Fuck. I'm going to get up and get ready and go down and open the restaurant. And then I'm going to sit in the dining room and try to assert some order to this mess while fielding the incessant questions of idiot tourists.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Vice Interview- Bret Easton Ellis

James sent me the link to this interview with Bret Easton Ellis, one of my longtime favorites. Check it out.

Alfred A. Knopf, Ellis' publisher, today released the link on twitter with the note, " I, uh, can't quote most of it, so read it straight from the source:"

And please note that, throughout the descriptions of each of his works, that Lunar Park is described as one of his best. I TOLD YOU SO. I have always thought that. People didn't agree; when the book first came out, a review was written in Slate and the reviewer mentioned that she was among the few who really, really loved the book. (My best friend Elizabeth also agrees.)

--Ad Reinhart

It's been said many times in world art writing that one can find some of painting's meanings by looking not only at what painters do but at what they refuse to do.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Alexander Hall - Spring Open Studio Night

Please keep in mind that any reference to the current state of LPT is just that--current, and likely to change. Note: I suspect the opening of the novel will remain the same.

The opening scene of LPT is set in SCAD's Alexander Hall. The building houses the Painting department (both graduate and undergraduate), Printmaking lab and Ceramics studios. Positioned on the west-most edge of the historic district, Alexander Hall sits literally beneath Savannah's iconic Talmadge Bridge.

I am obsessed with "the first eight pages," as I like to call them (or, seven pages, actually, as I'm so involved with this part of the book I've micro edited it--it is no where near time to micro edit). I mean, fixated. The opening scene that takes place at Alexander was not originally the beginning of the book. In fact, I plucked the scene from a mere paragraph in one of Cameron's narratives and expanded it, fleshed it out to the plot-pushing scene it is now.

So when I caught word of the Spring Open Studio Night at Alexander Hall, I couldn't blow it off. Necessary research. And it's even better than a Gallery Hop (which is the event that opens the novel) because all of the graduate studios upstairs were open for exploration. As badly as I want to move to New York City, I'm glad I'm still living in Savannah for things like this. It makes researching so much easier--especially when you're examining, first hand, the reality of a pivotal scene.

There were certain discrepancies in the text. Of course I can't tell you too much but... Like a typical Gallery Hop, the opening event in my novel is a curated exhibit of student work, a group show in which Cameron exhibits one piece. It's a piece she completed that quarter (this is set during the end of May, near finals). In building the scene, I mention that there are "75 or so other people in the gallery," but when I read back over it I thought it might be too much. 75 people? Really? When Feifei and I slipped through Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea, there weren't be maybe 50 people, more like 40.

As I approached Alexander Hall I could tell there were over a hundred people in attendance. Cars were everywhere. Students packed the elevated sidewalk outside the parking lot. The lobby was bustling with viewers and SCAD faculty, staff and servers exchanged clipped, specific directions with guests. No alcohol was served, only sweet tea and punch, veggies and other unexciting hors d'ouerves.

I started (on accident) with ceramics. I can't believe how very good so much of it was. It all looked professional, as if for purchase (a fraction of it is). Unlike hasty student projects, the ceramics on display were interesting and varied and fun--I'm not interested in this art form in the least, but I did enjoy slipping through the crowds to inspect work and take pictures.

I thought Danielle Bishop's sculpture was the most fun, though the cowboy boots and gun-in-holster appeal to me personally. The stocky, short structure and mostly-boots nods at childhood dress-up memories, complete with toy guns and Dad's too big boots.

Danielle Bishop
Ricky the Cowboy, 2010
Hand Build Clay

There were, of course, the typical pots and bowls and things, all of which was more appealing and more interesting than the usual lot.

The undergraduate painting classrooms are downstairs. Only graduates have personal studios (upstairs). I explored some of these, snapping pictures in the name of research. They were exactly as you'd expect a room to be, when shared with college kids who paint: sloppy, flecked with multi-colored dribble in varying sizes, taped together, ripped apart, pushed around, mirrored.

I wasn't immediately impressed with the undergraduate painting. A lot of the subject matter was interesting, but the technique is... in training... However, here are some of my favorites:

Lisa Williams
Third Painting
Intermediate Painting
Oil on Wood

Some fat girl was standing right in front of it so I couldn't get a good picture. Which needs me to another interesting note: there is a space issue among the halls of Alexander.

If you are trying to seriously examine an artwork at the same time as someone else, it becomes sort of an issue. Especially because people are rude. (Also, I caught a lot of nasty looks from other women, but that's neither here nor there...) Anyway, Williams' brushstrokes are at first invisible.

Amber Zoeliner
First Project
Intermediate Painting
Oil on Wood

As I passed by these pieces, I overheard Zoeliner explain to a couple of viewers, "I was trained to be photorealistic." She said interesting things about switching brushes, when she used bigger brushes, but I couldn't write fast enough.

Jayne R. Morgan
Realist Painting
Honey Bears

Everyone who passed this painting said, "Oh, honey bears!" or murmured some form of appreciation. I concur. What's not to like about a troupe of honey bears?

Also wandered down to the printmaking labs, which I swore off years ago. I made the mistake of sacrificing one of my precious open studio classes on Introduction to Printmaking. Obviously I had no idea the manual labor involved in this. Disaster. But I have a complete appreciation for printmaking now. Absolutely no patience for it, but loads of appreciation.

The presses have names such as "Henry Miller" and "Orson Wells."

Upstairs was the best, however. The artwork on display among the grid of halls and open gallery space was captivating, and I realized once I finally (finally) left (after nearly 2 hours) how interested I was in so very much of it. I suppose this has something to do with the lack of great gallery space in Savannah.

I was also arrested with the individual graduate studios. The white cubes (well, they start out that way) were so personal, so intimate, the spaces a reflection of both their occupants and the artwork produced there.

Note the mini fridge (not the only studio with one) and coffee maker.

Many closed black doors. Yellow cards bearing each student's name filled a slot on the doors. Others were open with notes and business cards and cleaned out platters where cookies and cupcakes were offered.

Among the narrow halls students discretely discussed their processes or lifestyles or finished pieces with viewers. "I've been painting everyday now," said one student. She was tired, shiny faced and complained of only eating once, much earlier today. That... does not make me miss college.

One thing I like so much about Alexander Hall is the view. It's sort of industrial, over there by the shipyards and ports, pushed down on the boarder near the strip clubs and Frozen Paradise, but when you look out there's a view of the Savannah River and the underbelly of the Talmadge Bridge that, unlike all the squares and picturesque monuments and Spanish moss that eventually blur together, these views around Alexander let you know immediately where you are. (Some of the undergraduate work reinterates this fact, painting landscapes immediately about the premises). It's a side of Savannah--and of SCAD--that you don't often recall.

"Why would you go there!?" Erin (who's an undergraduate painting major) exclaimed when we spoke after my visit. "It's awful and there are no windows and it smells awful, even though I love the smell of oil paint and..."

But I was entirely charmed.

Spring Open Studio Night

Will Most likely be checking the Spring Open Studio Night tonight. The novel opens with a scene at Alexander Hall, at the end of spring quarter (which students are quickly approaching). Should be interesting.

No Good at Working in Short Bursts

It's hard getting back into it. I've had so much play time in the past couple of weeks that I can't fully focus on work. I'm not really motivated, which is unlike me. But I'm not good at working in short bursts. I need an established routine, not a weekend here and there.

My lower back hurts. And I've been up since 6:48 and at work since 7:00 and it's only 9:37 on a Saturday morning and I want to go back to bed.

I really love the early morning. Think I'll make more coffee and enjoy it. Then sleep in the afternoon (or go to the beach) and come home, wake up, get showered and go down to Mercury.

Friday, May 7, 2010

--Jackson Pollock

"I have no fears about making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own.

Tell Me Do You Lose Your Way Each Day

I read a ton of book reviews and notations on fiction writing. Every-so-often there comes about mention of a novel written in "first persons" or rotating first person narratives. Different characters sharing the same story.

This is how I wrote the first draft of LPT. This is how I originally saw LPT--all except the ending. The end of the novel was always supposed to be in third person. And then, when I wrote the first draft, it turns out that the opening scene worked best in third person, also, and easily glided back into first. But I wonder... How horrible or how successful (or some bland medium between the two) would it be if I added more third person, leveling out with a variety of first persons... Will that jerk the reader around too much? Or will it be delightful.

The trouble with so many books in first persons--and even some of the best contemporary fiction in first persons, say Bret Easton Ellis' The Rules of Attraction or Elliot Perlman's Seven Types of Ambiguity, eventually, the voices blend together. It's as if the writer cannot detach enough from his/her personal voice to sustain each of the individual character voices. (I think the most successful account of first persons I've read is Melvin Burgess' Smack, which, albeit young adult fiction, is an excellent read).

The voices blended in my manuscript for LPT, also. Sometimes I forgot who was narrating, which made the story confusing. Not the point.

Rumor has it most people who read books are smart. But "most people" that I meet at random are idiots. They are. So if my first persons aren't full of personality, or have some dramatically different voices, or ... something... then I should probably review and revise the execution of my narratives.


Well, because I know them, I'm going to go ahead and tell you that there is a lot of personality in this novel. Cameron is pragmatic and decided, then suddenly insane; Danny is quick witted and irritating; Ren... is a little bit of a bitch; and so on....

What I'm getting at is this: I think (though it seems a dangerous move) that I will flip between both first (first persons) and third depending on what the scene wants.

Somethings are just better off written in third person. And some scenes are just better off in first. I like action, literal scene written in third person. And I like character narratives to be narrated by the characters themselves--I do not want to be told information (especially background information) about a character in third person. That's boring. But something about the use of the word "I" make this acceptable (as long as the narrative is interesting and personal).

And there are just certain characters I'm not interested in writing about through first person. My hesitation may be due to lack of intimacy. But I'm working on it.

I think, every so often, I'll allow the characters of this novel to interrupt the story with their own thoughts, their own perspectives. For the while, I'm going to shift things into third person and see what I come up with.

Why is this such a conflict for me? Don't most writers know when they start writing if the book will be in first person or in third (or, God forbid, second)?

No. They don't. And by "they," I mean me.

This an isolated incident and it's sort of driving me crazy.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

--Adolph Gottlieb, Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko

"To us art is an adventure into an unknown world, which can be explored only by those willing to take the risk.