Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Death Of A Character

February 24, 2006

A character I created in 1990 died recently. I’m not certain if ‘died’ is the correct term. It’s a little hard to talk about, because in every sense except the important one she still exists to me. Her name was Stace Carmichael, and she was a character in two novels in progress of mine. In one novel as a baby, and the other as an adult.

I will call my books BOOK 1 and BOOK 2 to avoid people stealing the titles before they are published. BOOK 2 was a ensemble originally, and Stace was one of the characters, but over time the story got trimmed down more and more until it only featured two characters directly, and Stace was not one of them. It didn’t bother me. Her story would be told elsewhere, I figured. BOOK 1 takes place in late 1973 when Stace was a baby, and just this week I realized that my one main problem with the story, without realizing it, was Stace’s plotline. It seemed to weigh the story down, and turn it into soap opera, which is the LAST thing I wanted. After much consideration and deliberation I decided to cut Stace out of the book. Vivian, her mother in the story, has no child. Stace now ceases to exist.

True, I could still use the name Stace, and the same basic character personality in another story, but it wouldn’t be the same. Obviously you don’t know what I’m talking about fully, and I wouldn’t be able to go into all the details here, but Vivian being her mother and what Vivian does was always a HUGE part of what Stace was, and what she came to be. Without Vivian being her mother, she simply is not Stace Carmichael, no matter how I may attempt to deceive myself.

She is gone, and yet she lives on inside my head. To me, she isn’t really dead at all. I can consult her whenever I choose, converse with her when I like, write stories which still figure in that old timeline for my own amusement, but for all intents and purposes she is gone. Deceased.

And strangely, I mourn for her. She feels both alive and dead like Schrodinger’s Cat.

Stace Carmichael, 1990-2006

Oprah: Surely You Jest

January 27, 2006


The entire brou-ha-ha over the so-called fictions in James Frey’s “A Million Little Pieces” is bringing me dangerously close to a nonstop tidal-wave of barf. Are these people kidding, or do people just like drama and love to jump on a bandwagon of hate? Probably both, let’s be honest we are a lynching people. Sources disagree to exactly how many witches were actually killed in the infamous witch trials, but let’s be honest: they were killing witches because they liked it, not because they really felt threatened by them. Ditto for the Spanish Inquisition. People love to see someone hounded and caught, whether they want to admit it or not, even to themselves. James Frey is just the most recent, and one of the more juicy, victims.

On her show yesterday Oprah Winfrey berated author James Frey for “betraying millions of readers.” I would love to ask her majesty if she truly believes, in her heart of hearts, whether every other memoir and autobiography she has ever read was 100% true. If she does believe that she is, in my opinion, at best extremely naive and at worst a deluded fool. Memories are by definition subjective, there is no getting around that. We do not have access to other’s memories, or some preternatural objective memory computer, so the best we can do is retell things as we believed they happened. This makes every single memoir and autobiography ever printed fiction, whether you would like to believe it or not.

I don’t know whether James Frey intentionally altered what he believed to be the truth in his memoir, nor do I care. I choose to think for myself, and not have others tell me how things are or are not. When I heard about the hole in the cheek and the dentist visit minus Novocain I immediately and instinctively felt that these stories were false. Did I know for certain? No, but if one is even slightly savvy they would ask themselves a multitude of questions concerning these two incidents, most of which would lead to the conclusion of fiction entering the narrative. Do I care? No, I do not.

Q: Why do we read?
A: We read to be entertained.

Were you entertained by the book? If so, great; if not, fantastic too, but can you really say you were more entertained when you thought it was true? If so, why?

This entire debacle reminds me of the people who took their Milli Vanilli records back to the store when it turned out the singers of the songs were not who the listeners thought they were – I remember thinking at the time: “But isn’t it the MUSIC these people enjoyed? The music remains the same.”

And so, people, I tell you: the words remain the same.

Not Quite 5

June 7, 2005

This afternoon I couldn’t think of anything to write about, so I asked Dharma Jam for advice via Instant Messenger. The conversation went like this:

P.T. Barnum says: (4:03:38 PM)
   i cant think of anything to write

Dharma Jam says: (4:04:15 PM)
   write about how it’s 4 and you want to go home and get high so urgently bad, and how you know every minute till 5 is gonna take 45 minutes to pass

P.T. Barnum says: (4:04:33 PM)
how is that discordian?

Dharma Jam says: (4:04:45 PM)
it’s not. it’s just my thoughts.

Dharma Jam says: (4:04:47 PM)
I WANT TO GO HOME

Dharma Jam says: (4:04:50 PM)
NOW

Dharma Jam says: (4:04:55 PM)
and smoke

P.T. Barnum says: (4:05:10 PM)
me too. good enough for me.

And, so here I am. Not especially Discordian, but since Discordian can mean pretty much anything, it can also mean this. We want to go home and smoke.

Hail Eris.