Myers-Briggs and the Complexity of Self Through Novel Writing

This is going to be a particularly personal post. This semester has been more than a little overwhelming for me, I move about in a city I don’t know so well and don’t know too many people inside it. I’m struggling but not depressed. I’m lonely and simultaneously elevated in my love for what I’m doing. I just applied to Grad school, will be applying for assistanceship, and get along with classmates and professors just fine (if a little over exuberant and puppy-like sometimes). I just handed in three essays, a blog post, an abstract, and read nearly four books in the past week. I have a presentation tomorrow. I have two essays due the week after break, two more books to read, a proposal to write. I am happy here. This finally feels like me. I am not happy here; I have no friends inside my bubble.

I haven’t written on my novel in nearly a month. Continue reading

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Writing, Like Reading, is a Solo Endeavor.

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I mean, it is. I know lots of people with day jobs as picture framers and teachers and professors at universities who go home, write about their experiences, and only write in that bubble. Separate from the writing world at large. People do that. Lots of people do that.

The act of touching keyboard or pen is definitely a solo endeavor. And if that’s all you want out of it, that’s all you need.

But even Malcolm X, in prison, didn’t write alone. He wrote in a group. The idea of an incarcerated man, sitting in a cell with a pencil and legal pad and a few books, plugging away at some idea, lost in a vacuum of solitary, and not solidarity, probably sits in a lot of people’s heads. There’s a stigma attached to writing. Google “writer,” look at the images. It’ll show you this stigma. One person. Alone in a room. With birds or some sparkly pixie dust floating out of his hipster typewriter. Usually male. Usually white. Usually synonymous with the idea of reading; casual, inspired, brilliant, freeing.

All the way bs.

Continue reading

Being the Sponge

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Couldn’t find a flashy sponge pic, but this sums up the idea in a nature-centric way.

To those who still read, I apologize for the spontaneous nature of this blog. I’ve spent three years working a job where I couldn’t write the way I’d like. It’s difficult to explain, especially since I battled it the whole time. My closest friends will attest to my struggle, the way I work my words. I’ve been out of work for a month now, and I’m only just beginning to wake up.

I have six or so blogs currently planned, most of which deal with the college courses I’m currently enrolled in: A Lit course on Mythology (Homer’s Odyssey read alongside James Joyce’s Ulysses), and an Entrepreneurship in Developing Countries business course, which has provided so much insight and information even I have just begun to realize the impact of this class. I’m the only lib arts guy there; the rest are financing, accounting, business. I am uniquely unqualified to be in that class, yet I’m looked at as a de facto leader of the class (for several reasons, which I will go into later).

But more than those things, I’m realizing why my previous job kept me from being able to write. I scratched the surface while working, especially since I took stress leave two years ago, and found myself in my work during that time. But given how much has changed since I seriously worked on my novels–the latest file being accessed two years ago–I’m looking at this journey with an analytical mind. Perhaps not scientific. I’m not so great at the hypothesis-to-testing ratio. But given it’s research into me, I really have nothing, and no one, else to compare it to.

In the dregs of my job, my closest friend gave me a book to read. In fact, she gave me the first two chapters. The title of the book is How to Write a Lot, and it focused on academics-based writing for professionals with a hectic schedule. It was beautiful. It helped. It provided momentary focus on how to write. Write words. Thoughts. Research and learn and develop ideas.

And it would work well for someone who writes blogs, for instance, about their jobs. Or who have jobs on writing blogs. Or whatever. I’m sure it would work well for most novelists, as well. In time, if I sacrificed enough, and if enough aspects of my life were regulated, safe-feeling, and stable, I could be proficient at writing.

In that circumstance, I could not be the writer I used to be. This is my thesis (liberal arts guys don’t go for hypotheses. We abbreviate that shit down). Until I shrugged the mantle of that job, I could never be that writer. That writer is a writer of words, of creative thoughts, of secondary needs. That writer creates structured, nice, fine things. That writer is a writer of sure. I’ll write that.

That writer writes from the inside, looking out. From a castle with plate metal gates. Stationary. Focused. Dedicated to something else. Where writing is a side project and doing is the focus.

That writer isn’t a sponge.

Continue reading

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.