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Aug. 11th, 2008

It is always funny and unsettling to see what people think your writing is. I've gotten "sci-fi", I've gotten "avant garde", I've gotten "political/social", I've gotten comments on my style which today was called "all at once without stopping."

I can give a lot of explanations for this if pressed to, from the most arrogant tripe (a good story is when people can find all the aspects of themselves and their beliefs and their souls identified and buried in a piece) to the perhaps more realistic, self-effacing tripe (you are trying to be too many things, which stems ultimately from still, even after fifteen years, not knowing what you want) to the perhaps most realistic, less self-effacing less tripe (people see things differently, guided by but ultimately regardless of your own intentions, which perhaps, in the end, don't really mean a fucking thing). Probably because being told all of my life that unity and clarity is skill, my reaction to being told these things, being told anything, is always inwardly negative because it almost never matches up. I have never told anyone who gives me critiques, except Chris, when I felt the need to, that they were wrong, unless it was for something totally pragmatic (no, the sky is not blue. It is orange. Stated in P5L3). Sometimes this is because they stumble onto something that makes me look better than I am and I don't want to ruin it. Most of the time it's because I want their story to be whatever it is they saw. I feel an impulse to try and stop people from changing everything. I feel other impulses to want to change into what they want me to be. I feel impulses to defend, impulses to deny. But I don't feel any impulse for what it actually is I am defending or denying. In the end, I always find myself thinking, I am usually no more wrong or right than they are.
Hey I just used the bracketing exercise on my UFO story.

Well how 'bout that.
I miss my workshops.
windycitystoryslam.wordpress.com

Pretty bare but you can see a picture of me that Stephanie took while I was trying to get drunk and my stupid bio. Also, Nicolette wants me to write some stuff so that will be there in the coming days.
I lost my notebook yesterday. There was a great story in there that I'd just written about my house. I was very drunk but it was very good. I am near suicidal about it all but there is nothing, fucking nothing, I can do about anything right now. So I guess I am going to write, and hopefully someone will be bringing me a bottle of tequila in the near near future.
It is 9:30 on a Saturday night. Ahead of me: five straight days of working at my server job. They will not be four-hour shifts. This week, I am full time. Classes are winding down and getting down to brass tacks. My work load is going to be incredible at CWE, because Manifest is now about a week away.

I spent last night falling in love and drinking whiskey. I spent today writing and reading. I do not even want to go out, because Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is here. It is here, begging to be read. It is begging to make the world more beautiful for me, more bearable. My friends are waiting. They are waiting, Jasmine. They are waiting for you. But the book...

It is the most beautiful thing I have ever read.

Edit: the book won.

5 of 30

When the city burnt out,
I spent three or seven days
trying to find your eyes.

I looked all over the west side,
and came out of it
with nothing more
than a pack of expensive cigarettes
and a couple love letters
that somehow survived unscathed.

I looked all over the north side,
and found in it traces of your
obsession with history,
your random-seeming baseball memorabilia
and your drunken predisposition
for falling over sleepily
in the grass.

The only trace of you seems to be left
in the ash-eaten bank of Lake Michigan.
I go there at times to sleep
and I awake from my dreams
with shells in all of my pockets
beside an urchin who feels very out of place
having come here with unrealistic expectations.

My Process

or, if you prefer, "I am a hateful, scornful, alienated motherfucker whom none of you can relate to and I will at some point in my life live in a shack" by Jasmine E. Neosh

There are a lot of people out there who will be happy to talk about their process in writing. They will tell you something very elaborate and ornamented, probably something that includes the phrase "people-watching" or "barista" or "inspire." I am not that kind of writer because I am not that kind of person. I watch what people do because it's when you don't watch them that they get you and as we all know, people are not to be trusted. Children maybe because they are small and stupid, but not real people. Real people are deceitful bastards. I don't like cafes or coffee although I wish I liked both so I could feel more comfortable on first dates, which because I am young and have boxframe glasses, almost inevitably take place at coffeeshops. I spy on people's conversations but only when they are interesting-- when I want to imitate real people in my writing, I just read it out loud and if it sounds wrong and stupid, I change it, but if it sounds natural, or unnatural but necessarily so, I keep it and pat myself on the back. I am a little bolder in my "people-watching" in the sense that I find out what I want by asking questions and listening when they answer me. If it makes it into a story, so be it, but that's not my primary mode of inspiration.

The truth about my process, if you'd like it, is almost dissatisfyingly simple, but there isn't much that I could add to it without just lying to you. I sit down, and I have a line or two that come pretty much from the ether, and I go from there. That's it. I write until I no longer can and then I go to sleep. This is a bad process because it means if I don't finish something in one sitting it may never get finished, and because I seem to do my very best writing the morning after a night of heavy regretful drinking, I want to get to sleep pretty quickly and a lot of great things never actually get finished. The fact is, if I don't have a line or two to start with, I can't start at all. That's a habit I really need to get over, but I am getting better at it, I think.

My New Romance, part 1

I live in a dorm, an aesthetically pleasing dorm devoid of that concrete box motif that parents abhor but nonetheless a dorm of very shitty construction. Above and below and from either side of any wall, you can hear everything that goes on between apartments. If friendships are formed between occupants of adjacent apartments, conversations can be held without having to leave the comfort of one’s own space. If romances are formed, infidelity is next to impossible but still fairly common. The break-ups are horrible, I have heard, due to the lack of secrecy. I have seen many a heart break over a shitty insulation job.

For the most part this lack of privacy does not bother me. I don’t have any friends in my dorm. I am not emotionally involved in anything I overhear even between people I live with and see everyday, and nothing I say, when overheard by others, is more than a curiosity. It could be a very lonely life at times. Mostly, though, after hearing some of the things that go on here, I am glad not to have any involvement with these people anyway.

I first became aware of the Boy while I was in the bathroom. I was bogged down with a very messy combination of influenza and empty stomach drinking. It was a Friday night and my apartment was empty so I had decided to just lie in the empty bathtub with a bottle of water and a pillow until the whole thing passed. It was between rest periods, while I was slumped on the floor with my head against the toilet, that I heard the singing. It was coming from beyond the wall, echoed no doubt by the bathroom mirrored on the other side. I got up, wiping my mouth on my arm and putting my ear to the wall. It was different than the usual lonely night college boy singing, inspired by alcohol and irony or indie rock douchebaggery. It was… well, it was good.

I did a mental inventory of everyone on the floor who I had seen carrying a guitar case. There was only one that I knew of and when he sings, he sounds like a midget Turk on the verge of a very bloody death, so I knew it could not be him. It occurred to me then that I really didn’t know anyone on my floor, at all, and that I had gone about eight months without ever even seeing the people who lived in the apartment next to mine. It never bothered me before, but sitting there, helplessly ill, terribly lonely, and listening to this obviously lonely perhaps ill possible soul mate in the room beside me, I felt like a prisoner, looking out on a beautiful world that was happy to be without me.

“What are you doing?”

“Oh man, are you sick again?”

I turned around. My roommates were standing in the doorway with bags of groceries, disturbed-looking, put off. They had heard nothing of course. And me, I hadn’t even heard them come in.

“Stomach flu,” I said.

“Is that your blanket in the tub?”

I shrugged. “Laundry is expensive here.”

This seemed to mollify them, or disgust them, because they left me to my strange camp and went off to do whatever they usually did, but when I turned my ear back to the wall, there was no sound on the other end, only the vague hum of plumbing and the slamming of doors in the hallway as people moved in and out of their rooms with each other, going on with their plans without me, just as they always did.

Feb. 18th, 2008

Some days, some nights, I feel as if the only way I can justify my oxygen intake and my ownership of this little piece of time and place in the world is to write write write. I write like it's my last and only chance. I do that because I really think it is.

It is not always good. Sometimes it sucks. Often it sucks, and I fret, sweating nervously even in my dreams, and the ones who have watched me sleep tell me that even then I never lay still.

But I try my best, I think. God help me, I try my best.