balzac1I’m feeling testy. And I’m writing fiction, which, for me, is a journey of tangents and digressions and discursive asides and interpolations in concert with crazy-making reconsideration, re-ordering, removals and re-insertions. The rhythm, the cadence of the sentences, the shape, the syntax, the actual out-loud-silent sound of the words.

For example, I could not use in fiction the opening; “I’m feeling testy.” Not unless the speaker was someone I wanted the reader to imagine groping testicles. Because, despite the presence of the letters spelling “testy” – as in cranky and irascible and generally annoyed with the human race in whole and in all and each and every of its parts (which is the case with me, today, RIGHT DAMN NOW) – the homophonic “testes” – as in balls and gonads and reproductive organs – would play in the minds of many readers; perhaps not at the level of consciousness, but, nonetheless, THERE. And, depending on the reader, and the gender of the narrator speaking “I’m feeling testy” there would then come into play all sorts of feelings – conscious and un – about sexuality and groping and . . .¬† so, I could NOT start a fiction with that line unless I had a very specific character situation and impression I wished to convey. After which writing, I would worry I had been, perhaps, too subliminal about it.

Which would make me feel nuts.

You see?

coffee writeAnd because I nearly lost my shit last night (now THAT phrasing produces all variety of unpleasant visual, yes?) while trying to settle on an opening sentence/paragraph for the project I am now torturing out of myself, running from my home like a mad-person to escape my mind, my milieu of literary-purgatorial-stasis – my pen had been scribbling / crossing out / scribbling / crossing out for hours to no avail – and ending up at a nearby coffee shop, where watching the comings and goings of pretty, young, tightly-fleshed, loosely-wrapped young people from the nearby college finally gave me the “a-ha” I needed to (almost) settle on that opening, I promised myself I would limit my bargain-basement-*Balzac-ian-blogging today and KEEP WORKING.

So, less than 500 words. And lots of links. (Send coffee shop gift cards please, at the rate I’m going, I’ll need to be sitting at a Starbucks for another – oh, say – thousand years to get this short story finished. And, too, now that I know it is populated in the evenings by tightly-fleshed, loosely-wrapped college men – well, we see where this might be going.) Happy Friday.

  • coffee guycoffee guy 2coffee guy 3LINK: Great review by Peter Straub in the Washington Post of new novel, The Boy Who Drew Monsters. He compares it to Wuthering Heights and uses the phrase “all-around swellness”. Who, I ask you, could resist? CLICK HERE
  • LINK: On The Town has been revived. The son of one of its original creators talks about it in Vanity Fair. Loved, loved, loved! CLICK HERE
  • LINK: Alan Cumming, currently starring on Broadway in revival of Cabaret, has written a memoir. He talks about it, CLICK HERE.
  • LINK: Elmer Gantry, in musical version, is opening at the reliably-brilliant Signature Theatre near D.C. and they’ve posted a clip of one of Sharon Falconer’s songs. Hell, why link, I’ll insert.
  • LINK: Finally, we need to talk about dying and aging and why our fear of both is causing us to both prolong life and yet, somehow, devalue the lives and worth of those who live longer, removing dignity and choice. This from Mother Jones about Atul Gawande’s book, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. CLICK HERE

*Balzac? Really? Because, in my still-unsold-un-agented-and being cut again novel – there is an episode not unlike one from my misspent twenties in which I said one night, under another mirror ball, “All I want is a guy who doesn’t giggle when I mention Balzac.” So, again with the confusions about testicles and such. Argh.