Yeah, I know

Not enough writing, not enough communication with you, some of whom are faithful readers. I’m sorry, but mostly this is an apology to myself for not pursuing this creative outlet as much as I should have.

I’m moving to San Francisco next week, almost exactly a year to the day after I left the Bay Area. If you know me then you know how important it has been for me to get back to the city. Everything and everyone I care about is there. I believe that SF will be the key to my personal and professional success, especially now that I’ve graduated and have a chance to discover what it is I can really do on my own.

I won’t write too much about the film I just finished working on. The industry is such that outsiders aren’t welcome, and discussing set happenings on a blog just seems to invade the privacy of everyone I’ve worked with. I will say that I spent a great two months in Detroit.

I need to get back into reading good books. Like I said when I was in Michigan, I’ve felt really disconnected from the literary scene for several months. I think that now is the time to start gearing up for a summer’s worth of reading and writing.

Personal time

I haven’t had any, which is why this blog hasn’t been updated in a week. Between seven hour meetings, location and tech scouts, and getting 7 hours of sleep or less each night, there’s hardly any time to write or relax.

Someone who had read my blog and then met me in person said that I hadn’t said anything bad about Michigan yet. There’s really not much to say though. I like it here but I wouldn’t want to live here. We drove through Detroit a couple of days ago. This city is tragically empty – full of enormous gutted buildings, and I’ve never seen so much destruction. Detroit is the post-apocalyptic city of our time. I told a girl last night that I imagine that this is what the cities of the future will look like after everyone has moved away. Not that there aren’t other abandoned cities in the world today, it’s just that there aren’t too many in the United States, at least not on this scale. In a couple of weeks I’ll be going downtown to explore.

I cut my head in the shower a couple of days ago. I think the curtain rod fell on top of me after I tore it out of the wall with my momentum. I bled for almost an hour but it seems to be healing really well.

I can’t believe I’ve been here for two and a half weeks already. We start shooting on Wednesday and there’s tons of work to be done before then.

Speaking of personal work…revision revision revision.

Whoa

I didn’t realize it had been nearly a week since I last posted. It’s not that I don’t have time to write, it’s that I’m spending too much time doing other things, so the blog was put on the backburner for a short time. I’m going to San Francisco tomorrow, then leaving for Detroit on Thursday. I will try to write more, but I will be in Detroit for six or seven weeks, so it’s hard to judge how much free time I will have. I guess it depends on whether or not I’ll be working six day weeks and if I will have access to a computer.

Finished 2666 about four days ago. Amazing novel. I’m still processing it. In the meantime, a couple of book recommendations: Wells Tower’s “Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned” is a pretty good collection of short stories. I wouldn’t say it’s amazing, but it does keep on making me laugh, so I recommend that you pick it up. Alice Munro’s “Too Much Happiness,” her new short story collection, is exquisite. Or at least the first story, “Dimensions,” is horrifying and heartbreaking and amazing. That’s all I’ve had time to read out of that collection, but if it’s any indication of the quality of the rest of the collection, it will be amazing. Pick up both of those for a marvelous contrast between voices and styles. Literally.

The Vicious Circle

Been working on some short fiction and an essay about dreams. Looking forward to finishing both and getting through 2666. I’m a little over a third of the way through, and like I said before, it is an amazing novel.

It’s funny how much you learn as a writer from reading great writers. I think I’ve learned more about style in the last six months than I did in workshop. I saw someone in a Goodreads book review mention how sentences don’t really matter in novels, and I think that’s pretty true. When you have thousands of sentences, each one really doesn’t matter much. I mean, if your sentences are terrible ala Elizabeth Wurtzel, then yeah, you need to work on that. But if you’ve got the sentences under control, writing a novel, from that technical standpoint, is pretty simple. At least for Bolaño!

Have to get to sleep so I can get up early-ish and go to the beach with Hang.

Atwood on writing

Margaret Atwood gives The UK Guardian ten rules for writers, and here is number eight:

“You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You’ve been backstage. You’ve seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a romantic relationship, unless you want to break up.”

Spring contests & Roberto Bolaño

Fourth Genre: Explorations in NonfictionMichael Steinberg Essay Prize

Nonfiction up to 6,000 words. Postmark deadline is the 28th of this month.

2010 Gulf Coast Prizes in Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction

25 page maximum for stories and essays. 10 page maximum for poetry. Postmark/Online deadline is March 1st.

Narrative Magazine Winter 2010 Story Contest

15,000 word limit. Online submission deadline is March 31st.

All three of these seem really interesting. I’m planning a triptych of essays on perspective, so if I finish, I can send one to each contest. Good luck to you if you plan to submit. If anyone wants to exchange manuscripts, I would love to get some feedback in the next couple of weeks. I need to get back into the writing routine.

I’m halfway through Roberto Bolaño’s “The Savage Detectives” and I am in love with this novel. The polyphonic structure of the second part is incredible, and even though I do not know even a quarter of the poetry references, this novel has been a huge learning experience. I highly recommend it to anyone. It’s tough in some chapters, but it just keeps building and building, so it’s worth it in the end.

Oh yeah, I just got a year’s subscription to Zyzzyva, so I’m looking forward to the spring issue with Jackson’s story.

What I’m looking forward to this morning

I hope you enjoy your new year’s parties. I’m off to Berkeley this morning. I won’t be posting any updates until I return on the 9th.

I’ve been thinking about all the things I’m looking forward to on my short trip this morning. Here are a few:

I bought Jonathan Franzen’s novel “The Corrections,” along with David Mitchell’s “Cloud Atlas,” and I hope to read either one or both of these novels on the trip. There’s going to be lots of dead travel time on buses and trains and an hour on the plane. I decided that I should finally buy some books, and so I did, starting with “Never Let Me Go.” I’ll be doing a lot of reading this week.

I get to see my friends and engage in lots of random activities.

I’m going back to Berkeley to not only see friends, but to hopefully see a professor of mine who greatly supported and inspired me in my writing during my time at Cal. I owe him lunch and I think I owe it to him to tell him what has happened to my writing during the last six months. That should be an interesting story.

I get to leave Los Angeles for more than three days, which is an enormous pleasure for me. I hope to leave here permanently by the end of 2010.

I get to meet a new person. Thanks N, I look forward to meeting another writer.

I’m also going back to a cafe I used to frequent, where I spent time reading and writing. It’s one of my favorite places.

I suppose that’s a good list for now. When I get back, more interesting stories will be told. I should mention that I’m slightly nervous about flying and the associated dread it brings with regard to identification and security. Hopefully nothing will happen. I do have the advantage of being a white male whom no one considers dangerous or suspicious.

All we can do is wait

I’ve been preoccupied with waiting lately. Waiting through the green card process, waiting for phone calls, waiting for work, etc.

Last week, my sister finally got her green card. She can now travel to Russia with my mother at the end of the month. I will stay here. Even if I could go, I probably wouldn’t want to go to Russia for a while. I’d rather go to Vancouver.

I’m having a really hard time sitting down to write. Been thinking through a couple of pieces in my head but my schedule is such that I just don’t have the time for it. We’re working on a documentary about a Ukrainian Prime Minister, and it has to be done within the next four to five weeks, so it is really short notice. I will most likely be in the Bay Area within the next two weeks, which will be a great way to see all of my friends.

I’m so apathetic right now. Just want to sleep but I slept for six hours instead of napping for an hour. That was one huge stress dream, full of deadlines and angry people and heads rolling on the floor.

Let’s see if I can fall back asleep.