Palahniuk, Inspiration through earlier writing, personal update

Hahaha If the amount of “likes” is a reference to my ability, my previous query letter is in pretty bad shape. That’s okay. That’s why I posted it.

Reading Chuck Palahniuk’s Lullaby. My best friend, Sir Martithin, has an ecclectic collection of books that range from Fight Club to Watts’ Starfish to An American Psycho. He let me borrow it: I’ve been looking for inspiring writers to enhance my writing ability, and figured since I’ve never read anything by Chuck, I’d give it a go. I’ll keep the majority of my commentary to myself concerning the book, except Marty said it right: It’s a fun read, but there isn’t a whole lot of depth there. A little unexpected, but he’s entirely right. Good book so far: nothing inspirational.

That being said, directly before I started preparing a deliciou stew made of some long white mushrooms, a myriad of potatoes, and a dearth of greens (yes. I just used dearth), I read a random throw-away story I worked on in high school: 20 pages long, died 1 month into it’s 9 month gestation, regular high school drama with regular high school stuff–Only! My God I understood social interactions. It’s about two brothers, one raised in Bangkok and the other raised in the Midwest, who go to high school together. Kinda like “Coming to America.” They’re twins, separated at birth. One’s a carefree social philosopher, the other’s a multilingual martial artist with an obsession with respect.

The scene I read was pretty solid: great flow, great interaction, tension worth reading on for. It surrounds a game of pick-up football. Six guys, four girls plan on playing a game of 5v5. One guy brings a pair of actual football players from the high school–some cocky dick that would rather show off for the girls and belittle people than actually enjoy himself–and one of the brothers, the American (Donnie), gets ticked off and macho about it. His brother from Bangkok (Lee) wants to get some exercise, so he doesn’t care two bits about what goes on. Donnie gets punched, punches the bully back, they truce or something, and the game goes on.

It’s the dialogue; how Bully requires his bud on his team, how Bully tries to take control of the group, how Bully requires the “cuter” girls be on the opposing team; how Donnie fights to keep in charge, bites back, hits back, philosophises a bit in his head; how Lee grounds Donnie in a way Donnie’s been missing his whole life. It was brilliant. It ended with Bully hitting Donnie with such a hard tackle that Donnie’s put in the hospital (as expected), but the way they understood things, how the dialogue was short, the descriptions were shorter, and the group dynamics were perfect that made me frustrated.

I’m writing a story about 8th graders that should have that same dynamic. They don’t. All the bookreading in the world wouldn’t compare to what I learned from my own random writing I could have thrown out eight years ago. It was just amazing. In fact, I’m going to transpose the football scene into David and His Shade, sans hospital trip, just because it flowed so well. Brilliant. Maybe I should resuscitate some of my old work. I was focused on much less grandiose things than overall thematic cohesiveness, macrophilosophical commentary on society, and teaching the reader, of all people, about the subject matter. Back then I wrote about regular people doing regular things, not caring about the BS that complicated and slowed the work.

Maybe not.

(Personal update) I work downtown in a small city. Across the street from my workshop a hunchbacked, bearded old Brit owns a hoarde store (where he puts all his Stuff). He’s a nice guy that apparently doesn’t get along with anyone (if my boss has anything to say about it). A few days ago he invited me to see his “garden.” I didn’t have anything pressing so I followed as he mumbled about coriander, oregano, and “sprigs. Sprigs o’ mint.” Remember: middle of downtown.

He walked me through a two-car driveway, down a small set of stairs behind some retaining wall, and lo and behold, where a bilboard sign used to be, he had a fifty-by-fifty foot garden. It had trees, morning glories, some kind of “rare african flowah,” and a stockpile of old air conditioning units that “the unfortunate have pilfered the copper from.” It was incredible: a hidden gem that nobody knows about. I thanked him for his time, he gave me a sprig of mint, and we went on our own ways. Pretty sweet.

One thought on “Palahniuk, Inspiration through earlier writing, personal update

  1. I really enjoyed Invisible Monsters. Choke was okay and Snuff was a bit of a disappointment. I tried to read Haunted but never finished it. I’d like to read Survivor, Rant, and Damned eventually.

    That’s great that you were able to find an old piece and possibly resurrect it in your new writing.

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