Erm, I have this feeling like I’m at the start of a novel, which bearing in mind the thesis I have coming up rapidly, I’ve extrinsically known this fact for some time, that a novel ought to be in progress and in the course of that progress I am somewhere at the fore end of it. If I’m a skydiver and the novel is a 747, my face ought to be smashing through the glass right about now, my ribboned visage only suddenly and just now peeking its bloody grin into the cockpit, with not much else of me, if any, on the inside.
But just yesterday did I feel the plane, is what I’m saying, I’ve watched it in the distance for a good while now, but the thing about planes and novels is that they move a lot lot faster than they appear to move and the only way you can really get a feel for it is to get right up close. I don’t even know who’s flying the plane yet, or who else might be on board, or where it’s heading, but it’s the voice I’m starting to find in my fingers when I close my eyes, a voice trying to say something. Btw I’ve started writing with my eyes closed as often as I can. Sometimes I can go on for twenty minutes to a half an hour and be so in tune with the keyboard that even typing about sixty to eighty words per minute I can tell when I’ve hit a wrong key and hit the delete key back however many letters it was and fix it, on the fly. Sometimes I won’t close my eyes either but will just look out the window while I’m typing which I think is a little less likely to make people look at me funny.
I’m trying to stay true to my roots. Which means unlearning what I have learned, which is to say I’ve heard so much on plot and structure and voice and Freytag’s geometry and start with the conflict and raise the stakes and what does this character want and such that I’ve forgotten or too often forget to remember that all I ever wanted to do was connect to an audience, which is to say I want to affect an audience, I want to trigger an emotion or perhaps several emotions because for the majority of my time on the planet, and I believe this is true for the bulk of most people’s time, there isn’t a whole lot going on around me that is emotionally resonant to any significant degree, and I’m not counting the subtle ways in which the red in a McDonald’s logo somehow makes you “feel” like you want a cheeseburger, but that is related because, well, look at anything older than like 1925 and you ought to notice a distinct lack of color. It didn’t even occur to us to invent color photographs for like half a century, or color television, not because we just couldn’t figure it out because of course we could, but because we had color attached to emotional responses, things like flower bunches and fancy paintings stocked up and took advantage of color palettes, whereas as print articles and not just life-like but still images of actual real life, these weren’t emotional but very very logical things, a one-to-one relationship with facts, the kind of truth of which there is only one kind. Advertisements wanted you to pick their products based on the logic that their product would make you life better and certainly more better than the better you would receive from competitor’s products.
Now, though, emotional manipulation is everywhere, not just in color palettes but the logical fulcrum of buying these products has shifted to somewhere deep inside us, usually tilting on insecurities, like are you really going to be the type of person that doesn’t make her life better by buying this product? Companies hardly bother with competing with each other any more, because the more relevant competition is in our minds, and if I try to argue I don’t need a fourth DVD player and I see an ad that convinces me otherwise, I’m going to remember that particular ad, that particular company, because when we lose arguments we don’t just come away with a new logic but also a memory of how we learned that logic, specifically whatever the name is of that asshole that bested us in one-on-one intellectual sparring, and that’s all a company has to do, not prove it’s better than other companies but simply prove it’s worth remembering. I’m losing the thread here. Hold on.
What I’m getting at is that emotional arguments used to be reserved for the stuff that deserved emotions to be involved. Starving children in Africa commercials are hard to find these days because they don’t work anymore, not because we’re losing the ability to feel but because we’re so often asked to use that ability that we don’t register the difference like we used to. Going from a toothpaste commercial to a fly-bitten, bobble-headed, bloated-belly semi-corpse used to make my jaw drop, but when my jaw is already consciously being closed to prevent that bad breath from escaping which the toothpaste commercial has recently convinced me I have, it doesn’t fall so easily.
Okay, the point, the fucking point is that just like that a-hole’s truck which he leaves running while he browses around the titty magazine rack at the gas station (“B-b-but diesel engines don’t LIKE being turned off!” you shut the fuck up sir I don’t care about your engine’s preferences just do me the favor of destroying 1% less of the environment than you otherwise would with that big honking dually you use all of twice a year for anything but driving to the grocery store, thank you), our emotional existence is in a constant state of heightened awareness, it’s always on, and so to find ourselves actually caring about something, to really rev up the torque in these surprisingly powerful brain-engines we’re all carrying around, is a rare thing. And so this is my goal. This has always been my goal and I’m getting back to it.
I watch a lot of baseball and when I see people going through slumps I can usually watch their minds overanalyze the situation or the pitcher or the swing and I want to just remind them that they train their bodies every day the same way they’ve been training their bodies for years upon years which is to see a ball and hit a ball. Everybody knows when you’re in a zone you’re barely thinking about what you’re doing. Particularly in basketball I know this to be true, when you’ve suddenly noticed you’ve made ten successive shots in a row, your mind has checked out and you’re letting your body do the work all on its own. Well I think writing can be like this, I think I can tap into a level of language that’s near instinctive and I can close my eyes with a situation in mind and allow whatever words that need to happen to tumble forth based only on my training and a practiced familiarity with voice and vocabulary and syntax, like the conduit is already there but I just have to get my conscious decision-making dome out of the way. And so I close my eyes, and so I will close my eyes and get all zen up in here, up in this coffee shop, because yes I still write in public which is a financial mistake but otherwise has always worked best for me.