Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Depth of focus... an example of an aspect of life that I should've been familiar with for quite some time now, instead of in the past couple of days.

Whenever I look at the documents that comprise the beginning of my next novel I always wonder why I'm not spending more time on it. It's still a regular occurrence.

It's easy to say that it's the intervention of university, and how it falls under the ironic spell of education getting in the way of my progress (although I've been learning quite a bit about literature, and how to write properly). But it's more than that...'s a matter of continually developing style, for one. It's been said that an author's life doesn't lie in their deeds and accomplishments, but instead the progression of their writing style.

This is a disturbing idea to me - how perception of the level of dedication and what you have to sacrifice reaches the level of your actual accomplishments outside of writing taking a back seat to the writing itself. If I get married, is that of lesser importance than the inspiration to write that I would garner from getting married?

The reading public might think so. My work would be of more importance to them than my wife herself, so it's logical. But that wouldn't be the same for me, it's possible I'd hold my marriage in higher regard than my work. Which is a very complex subject that I probably shouldn't expound on with no knowledge, it's actually kind of humorous.

Inspiration is another factor... in the back of my mind I believe that something has to happen which hasn't previously happened. A couple of years ago I wasn't in university, and just worked as a dishwasher and read and wrote. I know I can write with the same intensity, yet something feels like it has to happen. But at the same time, I believe that's whimsical thinking as well - it's just as simple as sitting down to the computers and my notebooks and working.

As I've mentioned before, Flannery O'Connor wrote in an essay that the best writers she knew also painted, because it gave them a method of seeing. I paint, although sporadically - I've been doing so since I was ten. And a couple of years ago, during the same time span when I just worked, read and wrote, I also painted. I'll post pictures of my work in the future.

Science shouldn't be a mystery... .

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Words Alive Festival 2010

It happened today. I didn't arrive there.

I woke up this morning feeling sick because I left my window open all night. I was exhausted and didn't think I could go, and started pacing around my room. I eventually worked up the energy to start getting ready. It was a very positive experience when I went last year and I wanted to be a part of it again. I tried to print my work but my printer wasn't functioning for the first time since I've owned it. So I had to write it out.

I left at 11:42 and thought I'd arrive in time for the 2:30 open mic. Michael Helm and Myna Wallin were going to be there and I wanted to see them.
But the buses took too long, including one being out of service along the way. By the time I got to Newmarket I was told that the next bus for Sharon would be arriving at 3:15 and would get to my destination by 3:30, which was when the festival ended. So I headed back home.

Along the way on the bus there was a drunken kid, bigger than I was, who got on the bus and met his friends. He looked much older than they did. He sat down and started swearing constantly and very loudly. No one was saying anything to him (although the seats on the bus were cramped and full of passengers) or his friends. I had my earphones on, listening to music, and could still hear him.
So out of the whole bus I turned around and asked him to be quiet. He was for a moment and then started doing the same thing, so I turned around again and shouted HEY at him. The guy beside me got up from his seat and moved away. The kid opened his eyes wide and clenched his mouth, and his friends said they were getting off at the next stop.

The stop comes up, the kid gets up with his eyes still open and his mouth still clenched. He walks up to me, trying to stare me down, and I'm sitting down and staring back at him and not saying anything. Meeting his stare. His friends call for him to get of the bus and he starts swearing at me saying "Get off the bus too, fucking pussy" then he leaves. Didn't try to touch me, just had that ridiculous expression on his face, trying to be hard and wanting me to buckle down. A guy sitting close to me with his girlfriend came up as the kid got off, ready to help me if he started to fight, and said "Fuckin' idiot, huh?" to me. As soon as he got off I stopped watching him, but I could hear him hitting the bus as we drove away and could hear other passengers being shocked at his behaviour.

The strange part is, after the bus went out of service and we had to transfer, the kid and his friends were on the new bus. I was sitting farther away and wasn't close to him. I could them all faintly talking though. After five minutes these two girls started telling the kid to be quiet, and it quickly escalated into a large argument. The guy who'd gotten up to help me earlier rushed from his chair and started yelling at the kid.

I didn't go up and add to the argument, but I walked to the bus driver and told him he'd have to remove the kid and his friends. The stop came up quickly and the driver announced "Okay, who's getting off?" Didn't get up from his seat at all. The kid and his friends got off. The two girls who told them off got off later.

The girls were smiling when they left. So was the kid and his friends. It ressurected an old feeling of mine: as though behaviour like that is desired, so we can fight and feel the excitement of standing up for ourselves, the tension and unexpectedness, the words that come out of our mouths and the spontaneous wit that we're delighted to unearth in ourselves. Maybe that's what the people on the bus desired. But I wasn't looking to start a fight when I intervened.

When the kid got on the bus and was swearing loudly, no one said anything. I was the only one to do something about it. Before I did, the thought came to my mind that I was going to a literary festival to read poems to people...and I'm just going to let this kid ruin everyone's day? I'm not going to do anything, just bow my head down, turn the volume on my MP3 player to maximum and let it happen? It was a matter of autonomy, as I've discussed before - how could I feel comfortable with myself reading my work if I didn't do anything about the garbage happening right before me? There's been other instances like this as well.

So even though I tried to attend, I wasn't able to. It's a shame - I don't know if I'm going to be in Toronto next September, that's based on opportunities from different universities for my Masters degree and if I find a woman.

It's my birthday in a week and I don't want to spend it by myself, I want to spend it with a girl. I can't stand this loneliness. I don't trap myself in loneliness, I don't want it. I never did. I wrote this ghazal awhile back for university and people thought it expressed a desire to stay lonely.
That's never what I wanted. It comes so easy to so many people.


Marble and chrome, Inniskillin, raucous laughter, kismet.
Rooftop parties with old friends on summer evenings, watching the sun set.

Romanticism and loneliness, dreams of foolish goals.
Trapped inside them but not defeated as of yet.

“Gemstones mean nothing to the value of human life.”
But I’m still joyous to see hornets encased in cut garnet.

Remembering her love of nature, and my desire to nibble on her earlobe.
Always with me as I watch Night Jessamines sway in the breeze, deathly quiet.

Years pass by and swell with her accomplishments.
I only sit in the middle of a room with a high ceiling, at work on a tercet.

Not able to forget the dreams of running into each other on the street.
Growing ever more nervous at how memory is considered an asset.

Rest in peace Moshie my cousin.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Nabokov and deceit.

Reading Nabokov's Lectures on Literature led me to come across his claim that authors must be experts of deceit - he argues that nature is deceitful and authors follow in nature's footsteps.

But I don't want to deceive people when I write simply because I'm not that kind of person. If you're willingly deceitful, is that a positive quality to have? When I published Disassociation I included a note at the beginnng stating that none of the events within the plot occurred in my real life and that it was all fiction. People have read it and believed that the story was based on my own life regardless of the note I left, which isn't the case. I never had two best friends who were violent and dangerous, I never went to Juvenile Detention and I never moved to Montreal by myself. I'll admit that it's somewhat flattering to hear people say they believe the plot actually happened - I was glad I wrote it realistically enough for that to happen.

But I never led them on. I never tried to deceive them and say that it really did happen, like other authors who've sadly gained attention and adulation for doing so which is completely idiotic. I came across a similar quote in Neil Gaiman's work of all people which stated that "Writers are liars."
I can't fit myself into these expectations. Sometimes it feels like authors say these things to atone for their own transgressions/guilt, but I'm not saying that's the case here. I just want to write and not try to fit into any expectations.
Not caring about what other people think, doing what feels most comfortable to me.

Yet when I consider Nabokov's intelligence...his reputation...his just puts pressure on me when I try to dismiss his expectations of deceit. Is the power of his wisdom/influence more important than my resolve not to fall into his pattern? Henry Miller once wrote in a letter to Anaïs Nin that he believed he was a great man. I don't have that level of self-esteem, should I? I consider that being egotistical. But sometimes it feels like I need that level of self-assurance in order to maintain my beliefs.

I believe in autonomy, that an author's own morals and deeds influence the way I regard their work. Some people would argue that their work stands independent of their own life but being a writer myself I can't agree with that. If I was violent towards people, abused women, abused my parents, was wasteful and conniving and hypocritical yet wrote well-crafted work could you really value my work considering how little of a real man I was? If my work was a way to make amends for my behaviour and to dispel my pent-up anger and angst, is that justifiable grounds for being destructive to everyone around me?
This ties into the argument people make that "Well, his work is so good that it's okay for him to act disrespectful to people around him" (thinking of Christian Bök here). I don't really believe that. In a previous post I discussed Jorge Luis Borges' view that people don't have the soul of a writer; they only view writing as a craft to be learned and practiced, and I think that applies here.

I think an author should be humble and have positive values for their work to be respected. That's not to say that they should write bland repetitive material, nor that they should act holier-than-thou, but they should be someone whom others can respect. Can you respect someone who's purposefully deceitful?

Early fall.

Back when I was thirteen, this song meant a lot to me.