False Memories: Diary, 5/9/21

Carl Jung (1875-1961)

{5/9/21}  Weight 213.2 at 4:40 am.  212.4 at 7:10 am.

Something interesting in the prison diary. My blowup at my bridge partner (in May, 2011) was not quite as outrageous as I had remembered it and described it. I had only bid the suit twice, while I had remembered it as three times. And I had one less card in the suit than I remembered, and I did not double, which I thought I had done.  On top of that, I remembered their bid as three notrump, not two.  Many details incorrect, and every error was in the direction of making the incident more outrageous.

A few days back I was quoting the item in Neuroscience News about how we falsify our memories, and there’s a very minor example.  I essentially had played up my role as wounded bridge partner, apparently to “justify” my rather outrageous behavior.

Now I said above that memories can be stimulated; but what will be stimulated is not necessarily going to be more accurate, which is what I had been thinking.  There aren’t two sets of memories, one accurate and the other corrupted—I don’t know of any way that I could have recovered the more accurate memory of the bridge incident than the way I did, i.e., by reading what I had written.

But the relevance to KM is not whether the stimulated memories are accurate; the relevance is that the reader will remember things they would otherwise not, and ponder them in comparison with my “blunders, humiliations, and crimes.”  And so:  “This book may let you see others and yourself in a new way,” the note I wrote after giving the book to Nog.  Also:  “Good stories do that.”

Eight pages of dictation and it’s only 5:45 am.  It seems like I’ve been dictating the PD for half my life.

Worry about the Medicare B “error” preyed on my mind this morning, is why I got up so early.  It’s irritating how irritating the whole thing is.  Layers of irritation!  And it’s irritation that leads to nothing—it does not get me writing letters or making calls.

I really have no understanding of how Nog spends his days.  I imagine him lying in his crate-house for hours and hours during the day, but that’s surely wrong.  Yet he doesn’t like to walk during the middle of the day—and he doesn’t like being with his mother and sister when they’re arguing, which they seemingly do constantly—but there doesn’t seem, either, to be anywhere for him to go except to feed his neighbor’s cats—which he apparently didn’t do yesterday before coming to my place at about 6:00.  So?

I’m kind of too addicted to soft living, so I spend $150 on liquor and, often, $100 on a visit to Barnes & Noble, etc., so I never have money for a car.  Admittedly, I haven’t spent money on liquor for a couple years, and the DVDs I buy at Wal-Mart are a more serious source of cash drain, not to mention books again.

I just bought a book on writing by Thomas Uzzell for about $17; it’s one of the books van Vogt used to develop his (admittedly terrible) style, and I found worth a look many years ago.  So…I love to buy books, no doubt about it.

I was thinking just before, on reading Anne Lamott, that her advice and the advice of many writing books is nonsense.  What they do is repeat the advice of other books on writing, rather than going back to the published fiction and analyzing and drawing conclusions.  Of course there are some exceptions, perhaps John Gardner and E. M. Forster?  I don’t want to buy their books, and surely don’t need to.  If after fifty years of reading such books, reading fiction, etc., I don’t know what to do, then I’m not going to learn it from two more books, both of which I’ve already read.  So why the Uzzell?  Blech.

Perhaps the writing lesson I most need to heed becomes apparent from the Prison Diary:  once I have accumulated a number of scenes of a novel, when the sheer volume of words and paper becomes a hindrance, that’s when it’s absolutely essential to work on the book for a few hours every day.  Working a few hours a week just doesn’t cut it, it’s as good as doing nothing, if not worse, because it’s likely just adding to the burden of work done.  It might be different if I were younger—I don’t remember this problem when I was working on Taffy’s War.  That I wrote straight through, one draft, handwritten—if I remember correctly.  No notes, no lists of scenes, no summaries.  Same thing with Death in the Desert.

So what’s the solution, if “the lesson” isn’t workable (i.e., if I lack discipline)?

A possible answer:  the word processor makes it very easy to tinker, and finally, tinkering is all you do when you work.  Handwritten is looking like a better way to get a first draft.  You grab a notebook and start writing and keep going as long as the dream will carry you.  If you get stuck, find you’ve painted yourself into a plot corner or a character has become unruly or you’ve wandered into writing porn, just stop.  (What to do then?  Dunno.)  This idea I added to the 100 Ideas notebook as #103.  Maybe, don’t “tinker” unless you’re forced to—don’t add a good idea just because it’s a good idea.  Finish things.

This is only theoretical, of course.  But consider this:  the only time I’ve been able to write a whole first draft of a novel is when I was not working on a computer.  Once I got a computer, the process ground to a halt.  If memory serves.  In any case, if I want to start another novel, I’m going to do as I decided.

I might be able to resume Albert’s Book.  Throw away the tacked-on ending and just pick it up again.

Solid dictation work today—I want to keep pushing on the Prison Diary.  I’m about halfway through the 1500 handwritten pages.  Much of it is tedious discussion of whatever novel I’m working on, or failing to work on.

In the 100 Ideas notebook I have #24:  Someone begins experiencing [text deleted, sorry], or think they do.  In reading it just now, I first had the thought, “but how to end it?”  But my second thought was, no, don’t try to explain it, just increase it into a plague that destroys everything, or just one city, or just the one person.  I’m not in love with the idea, but I’ll keep it in mind.

Another thought I had, and have had before but maybe didn’t write down:  write a novel about the writing of a novel.  The text would include the author’s notes, comments, theories, in parallel with “the story,” presumably the story about the novel’s author.  It could be interesting; I’d certainly give such a novel a try. [5/10/21: Meaning, try reading it.]

The rest of the ideas in the notebook didn’t strike any sparks, though there are a few good things in it, such as a list of things a neurotic character might do—typically obsessions (#99).  #101 has some good writing prompts; I could use them to try again the “100 Novels” idea.  For that matter, one might write them and assemble them into a book, a quite unsatisfactory book. [5/10/21: Meaning, assemble the two-page novel starts, not the prompts themselves.]

But using the writing prompts seems like being worth a try, since I have an itch to reactivate the lazy muscles using the new notebook idea.

On 4/11 I wrote about an “end of the world old people love story.”  This is not unpromising; but how is the world to end?  Climate catastrophe would be reasonable, but I think I want something unreasonable, like the “excess of [text deleted]” idea.  It’s possible enough that I should try it, maybe using a prompt or a neurosis or both from 100 Ideas.  Each neurosis could form the basis of a prompt, obviously.  Also, during any writing project, or any time at all, I need to be reviewing my A-List.  I should put a copy in my tote bag.  It’s important.

I ordered the Portable Jung, which is silly because I gave a book of Jung to Pablo maybe a year ago.  I also ordered a Baggini, some kind of “philosopher’s toolkit.”  I don’t really need something like this, but a systematic review of philosophical terms that I don’t understand could only be useful, and he’s an engaging writer. [5/10/21: About Jung, I wanted to read about “synchronicity,” in relation to the “[text deleted]” idea, so a character could mention it.  Pablo believes in synchronicity, something along the lines of “the universe is trying to tell me something.”]

Today’s entry is about long enough to be posted as a blog entry.  It’s only 9:20, plenty of time for a movie.  Pretty productive day, considering that I also made carnitas tacos, about ten of them.  Maybe tomorrow I can use the can of refried beans and green chiles that I opened (the chiles are whole, not what I wanted).

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