November 3, 2005

Updates! Getcher Updates!

Goal: 50,000 words by November 30
Words written: 4,085
Words to go: 45,915
Days to go: 27
Cups of coffee: 8
Insanity level: 3.9/10
Feeling: emotionally drained

So, my novel, which is really a collection of short stories related to each other, is coming along. I've written two chapters and I'm not entirely satisfied, but it has potential. I need to really just let go. I think it's all sounding a little affected. But, then again, I guess that's appropriate since I am writing "Literary Fiction". I am a big fan of this genre. If you aren't sure what this is, think: Raymond Carver, Kurt Vonnegut, Tom Robbins, Anton Chekov, T.S. Eliot, C.S. Lewis, even Ray Bradbury, in my opinion.

So I was reading some message boards and I ran across this great Guide to Literary Fiction. I am copying it here in it's entirety, with credit to David Lubar, who wrote it, because it's just good, as in funny and true, and funny because it's true.

A Guide to Literary Fiction

Just because a story makes no sense and seems to serve no purpose, don't assume it lacks literary merit. That's not your decision to make. The person who opted to publish the story has already bestowed merit on it by the very act of putting it into print.

While the world of literary fiction might seem anarchic, formless, and confusing, you can learn to enjoy this genre, or at least learn to recognize the nature of this thing that's taking up all the space that might otherwise go to cartoons. In fact, all literary fiction can be easily divided into just four categories. Here they are.

Crumbs-in-the-Butter Stories (AKA Breakfast with Epiphanies)
Two characters meet somewhere, drink tea, and talk. One notices that there are crumbs in the butter and realizes this is a metaphor for her life. The story ends. The gender of the characters and the type of beverage being consumed can vary. It is permissible to have something other than crumbs in the butter (e.g., a dying fly or a small diamond). There can be something other than butter on the table. There need not even be a table.

Knocking-Postman Stories (AKA Stop depresses)
These stories come to an abrupt and arbitrary ending, as if the writer, like Coleridge, was interrupted by the postman and just couldn't get back up to speed. The more threads left dangling, the greater the literary merit. The boldest versions stop mid sentence.

TCBH Stories (AKA Borges a Jolly Good Fellow)
These stories, too clever by half, are based on literature in self-referential ways. The main character might realize he's a character in the story. Or he might be writing a story about a writer writing a story about himself. Or reading about himself. Or visiting another story. Or thinking about writing a story. In more civilized parts of the world, it is a misdemeanor for anyone over the age of 27 to write this type of story.

Tales from the Cryptic (AKA All's Well That Ends)
This is the great practical joker of the literary world, with a pedigree going back to the original shaggy-dog story. The reader is lulled by interesting characters and maybe even a whiff or two of plot. We read dozens of pages. Characters converge and interact. Things happen. Then we reach a conclusion that seems to bear no relationship to the previous text. For example -- two people meet and have tea. Halfway around the world, a butterfly dies. The end. We are left as clueless about the ending as the author.

And that wraps things up. One final hint. If you're ever in doubt about whether a store is literary, there's a simple test. Look in a mirror immediately after reading the last sentence. If your eyebrows are closer
together than normal, the answer is yes.

That should give you a flavor of my novel-in-progress. It may not actually win any awards, or even see the light of day, but it's becoming like a child to me. I feel like I am creating something, giving birth, sending it out into the big, dangerous world one day and hoping that it doesn't get shit on. It's giving me a new appreciation for the risks that writers take all the time, and I think it is going to make me a little more sensitive to authors of all genres. It's kind of scary.



At 13:27, Blogger Ty said...

Lookin' good! Keep it up!! Only 112 more cups of coffee to go...

At 18:16, Blogger Snidget said...

Wow... good luck man...

At 04:38, Blogger Richard said...

I think that reading your own writing is like looking at pictures of yourself - you never like it.

Keep up the progress, I am still languishing at 194 words. sigh.

At 10:10, Blogger Bonanza Jellybean said...

Good luck!! I could never...

At 12:04, Anonymous bridezilla said...

I can't wait to read it. I predict that it's gonna be the greatest piece of literature of our lifetime!

At 12:40, Blogger Rude Cactus said...

Keep it up. Its an awesome thing you're doing.


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