Monday, May 24, 2010

What Do You Do? What Do You Do?

As some of you may have noticed, I've not written much here lately. There's a very good reason for that: I've been awfully busy. Things are getting set aside, brushed aside, looked at sideways. Aw, hell, I've just been frigging busy.

I've been able to keep working on my current novel, which now tops 52,000 words, but that's because I have a very clear routine to it.

Which brings me to my question, inspired somewhat by the oft-used Keanu Reeves' line in Speed, What do you do?

In this case, it goes like this: You're a writer with an idea burning in your head that needs to be written down. But you've got a job, a spouse, a family of kids twisting you every which way but to the computer, and you know that if you gave them all up, you'd be more screwed up than if you kept struggling to get by with the status quo.

So what do you do? How do you get that manuscript out of your brain, onto paper or a computer, out the door, and into the minds of agents and readers?

Me? I keep writing. I sequester these stories in my computer and pray that a lightning bolt doesn't make me regret that I've not backedup my files since the Bush Administration. There's probably some psychological term for this — other than denial, which everyone seems to suffer from. But it doesn't make me feel any better.

What do you do?

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

When the Time Comes: Michael Chabon's Manhood for Amateurs

This morning, it happened. I hit that page. You know the one I mean: the page when you realize you don't have much left in the book you're reading and you'll have to find something else to read — or start the same book over from the beginning.

There are few writers whose work I enjoy enough to do that, but Michael Chabon is one of them. A co-worker let me borrow her copy of his latest, Manhood for Amateurs. Now, my being a man probably makes this a more enjoyable read than it was for her — and she enjoyed it. But, from my perspective, what makes it worth immediately re-reading is that it rekindles thoughts about childhood while simultaneously making me wistful for my future years of parenthood.

Like the best nonfiction, Chabon makes everything in this collection of essays feel like a short story. From his own recollections, Chabon transports me to my special hidey-holes of kid-dom. Those secret paths through the woods where I tracked tribes of Indians. The moments on home movies long since muted when I didn't know I was being filmed. Even the essay about the changing of a radio station's playlist brought back car rides along roads I haven't traveled in years.

Though I sometimes wonder if people who aren't blessed with a good vocabulary and the knowledge of how to use a dictionary can fully appreciate the nuance and virtuosity he applies to each sentence, he also scars the landscape with enough f-bombs to make any 13-year-old boy proud.

So here I am, poised to begin page 301 of his 306-page book, and I wonder whether I'm man enough to do it all over again.

Do You Like Me? Join the Herd

In a mad dash to scoop up as much money as possible ... Ok that's not even close to true. Let's try again.

The Elephant's Bookshelf is now on Facebook. I haven't quite figured out what to do with it yet, but so far, I think it'll complement the blog. Perhaps we can get into more complex discussions about the things we're writing or reading these days. Or maybe you're an evil stalker wondering how to infiltrate my life and riddle me with spam — or worse.

We'll see if this is a good idea, but for now, I will formally invite you to check it out, "Like" it, and share your thoughts and ideas. Welcome to the family.