Sunday, August 01, 2010

August 1, 2010
Spent some time with the distinguished professor in Albuquerque last week. He recently acquired the original script of Moby-Dick by Ray Bradbury. I recommended to him to get the new paperback book "Listen to the Echoes," interviews with Ray Bradbury. I told Paul, Bradbury answers two different questions on the experience of writing Moby-Dick. And that this part is good adivice for Mickey-Donkey D***, the graphic novel:

"The problem of the novel is to stay truthful. The short story, if you really are intense and you have an exciting idea writes itself in a few hours. I try to encourage my student friends and my writer friends to write a short story in one day so it has a skin around it and has its own intensity and its own life, its own reason for being. There's a reason why the idea occurred to you at that hour anyway, so go with that and investigate it, get it down. Two or three thousand words in a few hours is not that hard to do. Don't let people interfere with you; boot em out, shut down the phone, hide away, get it done. So then you have one truth. But if you carry a short story over to the next day you may overnight intellectualize something about it and try to make it too fancy, try to please someone.

"But a novel has all kinds of pitfalls because it takes longer and you are around people, and if you're not careful you will talk about it. The novel is also hard to write, just in terms of keeping your love intense. It's hard to stay erect for two hundred days. [Laughs]"

—Ray Bradbury

And, since we're talking about new narrative architecture, here's what a reviewer in the New Yorker has to say about David Mitchell's revolutionary writing ("Cloud Atlas" and "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet":

"[Mitchell's books] seem to issue from some high-energy literary laboratory where exotic narrative configurations are tested and optimized for maximum expressive power.

"His novel 'Cloud Atlas', consists of six stories in different genres, arranged concentrically in an exquisite mirrored labyrinth that isn't quite worth the effort of solving it (I realize this opinion puts me at odds with its legions of admirers.)

"How do you tell the story of how things fall apart in the form of a story that does not fall apart? There's no answer, and a thousand answers. It's the inexhaustibly fecund paradox behind all of Mitchell's novels: he is a writer who uses order to depict chaos."
—Lev Grossman

He's worth checking out because he is striving to create a narrative structure that I think Paul and I actually talk when we are telling stories, but we kind of discard when we try to do a traditional script.

"You should never drink while you're writing, but it's O.K. to write while you're drinking."
—Keith Waterhorse

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