I am supposed to be writing my novel, for National Novel Writing Month. What I am not doing is writing my novel. What I AM doing is blogging. Which is similar, but not at all the same thing.
I think I am a short-story sort of guy. And I don't say that flippantly, I say it with sincere honesty, for those of you unused to seeing that sort of thing around here. Having written for a very long time, from letters to stories to poems to surreal automatic writing, I simply find myself more inclined to the short story, the direct shot, the fast punch. And I know it's harder (or so I hear) to write a short story that is good as opposed to a novella or novel-length story, I have never really tried until now to attempt a full-length story that is mediocre. The probelm being, I look at my current work and find that I have already failed miserably.
I've read Ray Bradbury since I was a kid. And I know that there is at least one of my friends out there who has heard that Mr. B. is a real barstard in person. I don't know this, because I've never met the man, and as little as I travel and as old as he is I doubt that I ever shall, but for me he long ago earned his title of Grand Master. If I were to be stranded on that mytical desert island with only food and water and only one author's books, I would invariably choose Bradbury every time. He has a touch that reaches directly into me, and his flamboyant, almost purple prose has affected my own style, at least indirectly.
See, the surreal in me is always fighting to get out. All the time. In my art, in my speech, my actions, in every way I find myself not taking the regular road, nor the easy one. No, while others are choosing between the two roads I'm busy looking for the brightly coloured machine parts hidden in the thicket of feathers. There is something in me that hungers for the obscure, the strange, the not-understood. I live to see man's mechanical greatnesses obscured by Nature's encroachments and the absurd, for me, is meat and bread.
The thing being, it's hard to pin that sort of thing down, especially in words. Life itself is hard enough to mimic, to replicate and make live and breathe on paper. It's one step again harder, at least for me, to bring to paper the very thing that my spirit is filled with. Oh, I often try. I try a lot. And sometimes I hit the mark. And other times I really miss it. The problem with being your own best critic is that I know when I have really gotten the bladder out and put the vice to it, and I know when I've done good to find the monkey wrench hidden in the Seek N Find.
I envy the seeming ease with which Dali, Breton, Ernst, all the masters of Dada and Surrealism pronounced, manifesto-ed, and otherwise prognosticated. It fell from their lips and their hands as though they were magicians, effortlessly pulling 100 pound rabbits from tophats. And I know that no matter how hard Andre Breton tried to make us all believe that it was effortless, no matter how simply Tristan Tzara made us think that he could write, no matter how offhandedly Rimbaud played out his poems for us, it was all after years of hard work.
And so I pound away at it, bit by piece, melting pawn by decoupaged fish anatomy drawing. And perhaps one day I'll spout nonesense with the naturalness of Dali speaking his own personal language, or I'll exist with the offhand ease of LopLop The Bird Superior.
Until then I'm going to see if I can salvage any of this novel.