Panning for form from chaos

I just noticed the for-form-from in the subject line. I like it! (By which I mean it’s better than a kick in the pants. Which I’ve never experienced, so I’m going on instinct here, hearsay, what you will, even though I’ve never known anyone, either, who’s experience serious pants-kicking.)

Before I get down to the writing process, et al., I have to say that yesterday was a strange, but great, day. I found a new cafe (Nom de Plume (of cigarette smoke): Café GoÅ‚Ä™bia 3. Which means, I guess, that there are another two floating around out there waiting for a home) that is filled with people also doing work, studying, meeting, writing on laptops, and seems to be friendly. It helps that it’s much closer to UJ (Jagiellonian University) so the majority of the café’s inhabitants seem to be students of one version of another. As with many shops, stores, restaurants, cafés, etc. in Kraków, the place is deep, not wide, mostly being around 8-10 feet wide but at least five or six times that in depth.

While there, through chance (she asked me for help with a Polish verb, I looked it up online) I met a girl from Liechtenstein who is studying at UJ for her Master’s degree. We talked, we went to eat dinner, we danced. It was a lot of fun, and a bit of random luck, which is I guess how one meets people in new places–a willingness to be open to random opportunities.

Again, I blame my new haircut.

Since removing myself (with encouragement) from The-Café-Must-Die, I have written in the mornings in my apartment an average of two and a half pages a day. There is something to this working before I dissipate into the world outside my doorstep. For one thing, it makes me feel like I’ve already done my work for the day. I haven’t been writing poems (that will largely go on outside, surrounded by noise and people) but working on fiction, and it’s been a good test. If I can continue this after leaving Kraków then I might actually be able to make writing more of a profession (i.e., something that makes money). At the rate I’m currently writing, I should be able to finish a science-fiction story a week, so then it would only take me twelve weeks or so to go through the rest of the sci-fi tropes I plan to turn into stories. Of course, neither of the ones I’ve written so far have gotten any play in the world of SF magazines, but I have hope.

I wonder, though, if my relative wealth of words is a result of the dedicated time in the morning or more a corollary to what I’m working on. Which is, to be not very precise, a collaborative novella with my friends Brendan and Jason. It’s based off of the final project for an experimental fiction class Jason took in college with Danny Vilmure as the professor. At the end of the semester, the class (well, everyone who wanted to be involved) wrote a joint novel: each person signed up for two hour time slots and wrote as much as they could, in a new chapter, in two hours, hopefully going off of what came before. I remember little about the end result as a whole (though I still have a copy in my memory box(es) somewhere), but the two chapters I came up with have stayed in my creative stockpile for a long time (one involved giant orange ants invading the city and boxes of oranges in a warehouse; the other had a section where the main character is in an Italian restaurant eating and, as he watches a significantly older man eat across from him, he realizes that he’s seeing his future self).

In the current incarnation, there will be twelve parts, each of use will write four parts in the following order–myself, Brendan, Jason–and have one week to write each part, which should be at least, or average around, ten single-spaced pages. Although neither Jason nor Brendan know this (until now. Hi, guys!) I’m using for the base an idea that’s been sitting in my head for ages. Really, it’s not even fit to call it an idea since, well, it’s just This guy who is in a party that seems to occupy the whole world. In my mind it always followed a sort of magic realist vein (my own definition, of course, which fits more with Aimee Bender’s writing than anything) and, as with many of my “novelistic” ideas, is unstructured as to plot. Which may result in the picaresque (as in another novel I’ve started) or, more likely, and more my traditional method of writing, simply means that the story is unfixed at first but, as the writing continues, more and more fits into place through repetitions, tropes, etc. I think of it like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. I know the general subject of the picture, but I don’t know what it’s actually of, what the details are, until I’ve fixed the border in place and started piecing out the forms.

What this gives me is a freedom that I like, and also the necessary joy in the process of discovery (and in the linking everything together). Of course, this also links with what I’d talked about before concerning van Vogt and PKD, re: the introduction of new ideas every so often, but what I find is different in my case so far is that the new materials are added until they reach a critical mass and the world is fleshed out just enough. Then comes the consolidation, the exploration, more fully, of what has already been introduced.

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