I Think I’ve Lost My Sense of Humor in Regards to Ron Ramsey

Dear Ron Ramsey,

The next time you think it’s so fucking cool to brag about how you break the laws you write, perhaps you should open your wallet and pay back some of the people who’ve been fined for the very behavior you are joking about.

That would make this bullshit a hair more palatable.

It still leaves a bad taste, though. No matter what. Don’t make laws you won’t live by, asshole.

b.

The New Novel is Conveniently Dominated by White Men

Y’all, you know how you know a book is good? When here it is, five years later, and you’re still thinking about it. So, this morning, I read this little blurb about Salman Rushdie declaring that television is the new novel: “TV drama series have taken the place of novels.”

And don’t get me wrong, I really love the extraordinary things we’ve gotten to see on TV. But I’ve been thinking about this in terms of Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s book, The Anxiety of Obsolescence, which you can and should peruse here (at least read the first and last parts). In her book, she makes the point that we live at a time of unprecedented literacy. At the time she wrote the book, every medium sized town had a Borders or a Barnes & Noble or both. Oprah could make a best-seller just by mentioning a book on her show. And, yes, times are different, slightly, but man, did you see the passions running high about that piece in the Wall Street Journal about young adult fiction ruining children? We actually have conversations about the “death of the novel” at the same time the novel’s being touted as having the ability to ruin children. So, you know, it doesn’t have any cultural power any more, except when it does.

One thing Fitzpatrick is trying to get at is who benefits from that narrative–that the novel is dead, that only a handful of people still write important books, and that those important books are kind of coincidentally usually written by financially comfortable white guys. And I think it’s obvious that those white guys benefit from it. But now, I think we’re at a point, especially with the rise in popularity of young adult fiction which, for all its problems does a much better job of being very diverse both in terms of content and writers than “the novel” has had and the rise of self-publishing where there’s a sense that you couldn’t just snooty-patootie the riff-raff out of writing.

But the idea that television drama has taken the place of novels? Oh, that’s good. That dismisses all of the actual novels being written as, of course, not being necessary, of being obsolete. And it draws a tight little circle around who gets to be these new “novelists.” Hint: it’s not you and me.

Well, I Like It

The hardest part about writing fiction is, I think, knowing that, no matter how good you think something is, it might actually suck. If you read enough, you know, there’s a lot of terrible stuff out there that, obviously, people including the author, thought was good. And you have to accept that you also might be and probably are writing fiction that is also terrible; you just can’t see it.

Here’s what’s changed for me: I don’t care. I mean, I do care for the whole “How can I get this published?” question. But in terms of whether I’m going to spend my evening watching TV or writing, I’m now spending it writing.

And my romantic zombie story, which is not actually romantic nor does it technically contain any zombies? I am having a blast writing it. Like, yesterday, I wrote the part where the little kidnapped girl decides one of her captors is Santa Claus and it made me so happy that, after I stopped writing, I realized I was smiling. Like, yep, this works.

My plan is to wrap up this section with a murder. I’ll get that done over the next couple of days and I’m feeling pretty good about that.

But then I’m really excited about this next part because, though I feel like I do a pretty good job about writing things that are spooky or creepy (or things that end up being scary when I think they’re sad), I’ve never written anything straight up “horror.” And I’d like to try. So, I’ve been mulling over in my head what terrifies me and why, what kinds of things in horror movies and horror novels straight up actually scare me. I feel like I know a lot about being terrified, since, you know, I have some issues with heights.

But how to put that feeling into being hunted down by your buddy back from the grave? Oh, sure, put that way, it seems easy enough! But I’ve never tried it before, so we’ll see how it goes. There’s a benefit to doing this stuff in June. Gives me time between now and October to fix it if it’s not right.

So, I don’t know. I’m a little nervous because each day won’t be a self-contained unit, which I thought ended up working really well for the ghost stories. And I’m not sure I’d want to sit down and read a whole long piece of fiction bit by bit online, myself. But we’ll see.

Ha, now I kind of wish I knew a little about coding. I could whoop something up as its own site, just for the month. I’ll have to think on that, some, too. Maybe I could set it up as its own WordPress.com blog thingy, if I could find a template that would serve.

When I was in undergrad, a million years ago, the College Professor taught a couple of courses on hypertext fiction (and that’s what I wrote my master’s thesis on–was hypertext fiction non-linear? I answered “no.”) and it would be cool to go all old-school that way and do all the necessary linking to let you go through the story that way. The nice thing about reading stories pieced together that way is that it gives the story a kind of dreamlike disjointedness and, when it works, the recoursiveness can be mindblowing.

I’ll have to think on that. First, I’ll just focus on getting the horror part done.