Hemlock Novel 2: Diary, 6/13/21

Hemlock Club meeting long ago.

{6/13/21}  Weight 214.0 at 6:15 am.

Don’t know why, but I feel better today.  Like ten years younger or something.  Eating mass quantities of Cheetos yesterday, surely that’s not why?!  Eight hours of uninterrupted sleep last night is likely part of it.

Seems like whenever I get software updates, things go wrong.  Today they went very wrong indeed, as I was unable to log in—the password box wouldn’t recognize keystrokes other than numerals.  I tried many different things, finally managed to get in using the PIN I was forced to establish earlier today by MS Word.

Watching a National Geographic program on Yosemite National Park, I hunger for a visit there again.  I’ve visited Yosemite mostly with my family when I was a kid (probably three times); once on my own, and I suppose once with Sue.  It’s been twenty years since my last visit, I suppose, maybe closer to thirty.  With a car I could visit there whenever I wanted.  I must get a car.  A second stimulus check would be a huge help.

I’ve subscribed to Matt Taibbi, Glenn Greenwald, and Jimmy Dore, for a total of $20 per month.  That’s not a lot of money, but it turns out that I’m just deleting their emails and not visiting their web sites.  My interest was keen for a week or two, and now it’s close to zero.  I just catch Jimmy Dore’s live broadcast once in a while now.  Cancelling would make sense.

But what about this computer?  I can spend $300 and buy a new one, but that means it’s just that much harder to buy a car.  Do I have an alternative?

Bored, I went to bed again to nap, but a neighbor with a motorcycle irritated me and killed the mood, so I picked up Roy Peter Clark: Murder Your Darlings and other gentle writing advice from Aristotle to Zinsser, a book I’ve been reading, or rather, dragging myself through.  I came to page 143 which has Stephen King on description:  “It begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”  Kind of underwhelming.  Clark then says, “For King, character details need not be exhaustive.  Just a few ‘well-chosen details’ are enough for readers, who can fill out the rest.”  In the bottom margin I wrote, “I don’t ‘fill’ when I read.  Rather, I want to be able to check a box that says, ‘character described.’  The details are almost irrelevant.  It’s action and dialog that matter.”

I’ve often written about the describing of characters and don’t want to go there again.  Let that paragraph suffice for now.

On an earlier page I wrote, “Teach yourself.”  Later I wrote a note, “Analyze A Christmas Carol.”  I had in mind also my “Subjective Microscope” technique, to be applied to descriptions in Moby-Dick.

So, ideas are fermenting, but not ideas about the HC novel, rather, ideas about what to do instead.  Not good.  Even though I like the ideas, I need to get back to producing new fiction words.  I did a little calculation—ten thousand hours, at four hours a day, is almost seven years.  Ten thousand hours is the meme going around about how long it takes to become an “expert.”  Seven years is a depressingly long time when you’re 74.  Fortunately, I’m not starting from scratch; I’ve undoubtedly spent ten thousand hours writing, just not fiction writing.  Even at that I suppose I could be getting close.

So?  I have no conclusion.

I have two thoughts about how to start the HC novel:  a conversation with a “new potential member” about the purpose and practice of the club, and an actual club meeting with an interesting discussion about something-or-other.

I’ve been thinking that I want to prepare a topic.  At the last HC meeting I was fired up about the two TV shows I had seen that morning, as described yesterday.  I also had the Chekhov story on my mind.  I could start the novel that way.

But of course I don’t need to decide how to start the novel; all I need is to start writing, and any of the ideas that I’ve mentioned and those that I haven’t could be the seed to start the pen moving.  Once I’m writing, things will start falling into place, or not.  With God of the Forest, they didn’t; but I was starting halfway through the story.  This time I’m starting from scratch.

One note I neglected:  Hemlock Club + relationship (developing, breaking down, changing form, whatever) = novel.  Games People Play (yet another book I could reread instead of writing).

HC meetings, fictional or otherwise, are not going to make a novel by themselves (or so I theorize).

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