I’m writing a portion of my novel right now which I call ‘the individual captaincy’ and where the main group of characters, due to a lack of people with experience commanding ground forces, have to split up and take control of separate armies. It’s a departure from the usual theme of teamwork, and quite compelling. As soon as I began thinking about this, too, several songs I’d been listening to pretty constantly fell into the motif. Two songs, for example, are both very Siari as a solo commander: Figure 8 by Ellie Goulding and the slightly more predictable Titanium, by David Guetta (and sung by Sia…)
Lots of fun this weekend: three 21st birthdays, including my own; visiting friends; Honk!; Also a lot of new to get used to: new phone; inside-ear headphones; the lack of frivolity on the horizon. (Curious that it fades right after I turn 21, though.) I am doing something frivolous now though: I am going all the way to Kendall Square to visit an interesting sounding coffee shop which my new friend Mia recommended last night. I have a lot of reading to do, though, and the shop sounded like a nice place to do this.
I can never write when I’m stressed, even the continuous low-level stress of school. I realize this last night when I choose to write during the 15 minute break I’ve granted myself between assignments and come up with two lines, even though I have a narrative of this part in my head that’s been growing for days.
Used coffee grounds look depressingly like chocolate lava cake, and smell about as good.
I think I should save reading Infinite Jest for a long vacation.
I’ve realized two things in the last several months: first that I understand remarkably little about the way people’s minds work, and second that novel writing is an attempt for me to tease out part of that knowledge, since experience lacks somewhat. My writing has become increasingly florid in the last few months because I’m trying to fit too much into a sentence, and time will tell whether I can shift back.
I have had a very good stay with my friend Elidia’s parents in Germany these last few days. Tonight, I’m taking a train to Trier, my third and last Roman capital of this trip. The city seems reasonably compact and the train station has lockers to stow my luggage, so it should be good for a day trip. I wasn’t able to find a satisfactory hostel in the city, so I’m leaving the city again in the evening for Freiburg, where I’ll spend the night. Then I see Adam the following day, and Margot that same night (only an hour or two from Freiburg to Bern!) The kind of travel I like best from home, but on a macro scale.
A bassline is the subtext of a song, and I think the part that ultimately elicits the most emotion. But unconsciously. We attribute evocation more to the melody, or lyrics if the song has it, but bass vibrates the soul.
One of the main characters in my novel, Aidan, is designed around the idea that the most power lies in what’s unspoken and unseen, in subversion rather than assault. Perhaps even what’s unspeakable. It’s a curious paradox to me that I believe in this, and yet also strive to quantify everything. Thinking about this a little further after the original posting, Aidan resolves this dilemma, in a sense. In a later part of my novel, he becomes spymaster for a city-state in a post-war galaxy of fractured nations. Precisely by quantifying everything that’s unspoken and unseen in the world of secret intelligence does he manage to do his job. But that only takes care of two-thirds of the issue. What about naming the unnameable?
I don’t consider such a process reductive, unlike a lot of people close to me. For example, recently some of those people quit Facebook after Timeline was introduced because they found such a detailed system for online scrapbooking to be necessarily so. Rather than reductive, I think it’s just expanding terms, words, tangible secular human systems of control, to settle comfortably around intangibles, to chase and ride their borders of layers and implication and meaning as they expand into the deep. Behind their decision to leave Facebook was a growing concern that more and more people nowadays actually do reduce people to their online components, instead of taking it as one part of the larger person. And it’s a concern that I share. But to me, once you understand the reductive aspect and reject it, casting a net of quantity to cuddle with quality is just chasing the unknown. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
All of that said, it should bother me more that I can’t conceive of all the shades of grey within a single bassline. But it doesn’t (although it did bother me that the only thing I needed to finish this post was absolute silence.) Sometimes, I guess, until you can figure something out, you just have to stand in awe of it.
(I might come back to this later. I’ve already done so once, and I’ve actually been mulling this since last night. So we will see. :) )
But actually. Like the last thirty pages of my novel have been written with some kind of drink at hand. I think it’s probably because I get in the zone before the alcohol hits, and then it just keeps me concentrated. As opposed to the various times last semester I came back to my room on a Saturday night and tried to apply myself vigorously to Kierkegaard. I guess it doesn’t work the opposite way around.
I’m at an interesting place in the novel right now. I don’t think I’ve ever explicitly said this here, so I will now. The way I’ve been writing this for a long time is piecemeal; whenever I imagine a good scene from the narrative, I write it out. The story’s divided into four or five broad sections in my head. I’ve finished one large piece of the first that sets up a lot of the future narrative, which I am super pumped about because I now have something vaguely canonical to which I can refer back as I write more. I’m temporarily skipping over the section I have planned for after that because I’m not too sure how to write it yet. In particular, it’s the first section that deals with a more philosophical/mystical aspect of the story. I’ve written similar stuff for the other sections, but I would like this part to tie in somehow. But I’m not sure how yet. Usually if I let something sit in my head for a few days, it yields something. So I am just going to wait. Really, I have the rest of my life for this.