Every time that I open Anori – something I have done a couple of thousand times – and wait as the document slowly loads, my always eye fastens on the opening line. And it’s never what I want, which has led me to change it some fifty or sixty times.
Dee watched the police car turn down the empty street and vanish on the other side of the park.
The keys to this sentence are a. the police car, b. the viewpoint (from a penthouse apartment) and c. the winds of Hurricane Sandy.
Jostled by the winds, the police car vanished on the other side of the park, as Dee slid the balcony door closed.
And then I think it’s all too much and that I only need the bare bones: The police car vanished on the other side of the park.But, that doesn’t work. Neither does: Dee braced herself as the gusts of wind came up again.
I want to communicate an isolated and brooding tone in the opening, something like Dee stood alone watching the police car as it went from sight on the far side of the park.But not that either.
Martin Scorsese’s Pretend It’s a City features Fran Lebowitz declaiming on her writerly life, stating that no writer enjoys writing. Which makes me think that I am no writer because I do, enjoy writing that is. And then there is Raymond Carver, who exposed the secrets of his life with honesty and makes me realize that I’ve never come close to that.
My modus operandi has been the sensational subjects – prostitutes, 9/11 and outer space – which I’ve consumed through the media. I feel unglued and half done. I want to think again and write something that people will read and think, “What a guy!” Yes, I need to get a grip
2:00 pm Ride stationary bike and listen to intense music (Rage Against the Machine, Cheap Trick, Nine Inch Nails, etc.) in an attempt to get brain moving. Watch birds flying past, beds being changed in hotel rooms across the street and people working in adjoining business. Writing problems do not come to mind.
Years ago, I read an interview with James Bond author Ian Fleming who detailed his daily writing regime at his Caribbean home. He would rise early every morning and write five pages by noon and then spend the rest of the day at the beach with a cocktail in hand.
I liked the idea so much that I blogged about it and mimicked it – albeit without the beach and Caribbean home. I wrote five pages every day for my first novel, The Sacred Whore, but realized that the pages were weak and ill-conceived. I was going through the motions to get to my metaphoric (and literal) cocktails.
Later on, I tried writing at different times – afternoon, evening and night – with a similar page count in mind. No dice. Fleming’s process simply was not for me. I needed something else. I needed my own process.
Something that I have learned over the years is that I don’t work well with an exact routine. My system tends toward the erratic. That is not to say that I don’t have a system, but that when I am overly regimented, the work loses its divination.
That said, when the writing is working, I have a pattern that works. I suppose you might call that The McPhedran Way. More on that tomorrow!
I push hard to get my point across and, to make that clear, write the thing again. I might write it in another way. Or maybe not. I repeat myself to make sure that my point is getting across. It is the point, as simple as that. And I have to make that clear.
This veers toward a tendency to overwrite, filling a cup well beyond its capacity, thus defeating the purpose. The trick is to find the right words and use only those.