04 June 2017

LaLa Land

Flying over the geometry of the Mississippi River. But where am I going?
Oh. Must be L.A. But why?
Daughter's MSW from USC! Congrats! So Proud!
Forever Felix!
And this must be Santa Monica!
Colorful ruins of Santa Monica.
That DTLA feeling.
Hiking behind the Hollywood sign.
Western Hikes are different.
Reward? Meh.
"But, Doc!" 
Drunk or merely recumbent. DTLA, again.
Too pretty to eat, Nobu Malibu (edible flowers, yo!). Celebratory dinner.
At sunset, no less! Chillier than you'd think.
Like I said, Western hiking is different. Bloom above Malibu!
Canyons (technically in the city).
Train Station, DTLA.
Leaving LA under a cloud. But where am I going?
Santa Fe? Is this New Mexico? And who is this Saint Fe you speak of?
No! It's the home of the Fathers! Petco Park.
San Diego. Whale's vagina or post-modern Kafka-esque hellscape?
SD Zoo was a bit disappointing, as are most zoos. But where else can you see a sad Mandrill so close?
Or a magnificently odd Giant Anteater?
La Jolla Cove, after diving with sea lions, banded guitar fish, horned shark, & Garibaldi in a kelp forest preserve.
And close out the trip with field level seats for a Padres game! (Fathers gave up 8 runs in the top of the 1st. Beer was good, though!)

01 June 2017

Let's Talk Process

One of the most frequent questions you hear when you attend a Q & A session after a reading by a novelist goes something like this: "What was your creative process in writing this novel?" Here's mine for my just-completed manuscript of what I'm calling AUTO-DA-FÉ.

AUTO-DA-FÉ is the story of an aimless Southern boy who seeks to find his life's meaning with an extremist militia group intent on fomenting a revolution at the turn of the 21st Century.You might describe it as a sort of anti-Forest Gump.

I knew from the start how I wanted to end the novel and had a working title that captured the aim. And I knew I wanted to depict the underground origins and rise to the mainstream of what we now call the alt-right. To do so, I had to analyze both my protagonist's motivations and the history of these right-wing groups and then dramatize them. I had a timeline of historical facts and a psychological profile. Themes emerged and coalesced. Plots formulated. Chapters flowed.

To account for the increasingly shortening attention spans of today's social media drenched audience, I chose to write short sections—2-5 pages—within reasonably short chapters for the most part. This helped with both dramatization and concision of thought and expression.

I belong to a group of committed writers who listen to and comment on each other's works in progress. At some point about a quarter way through the drafting process, I started bringing earlier sections to the group. This provided me a structure for recursively editing previous portions of the book to maintain consistency with the directions I found the narrative taking.

This last point is important. It means that the completed draft I have now is much more advanced than a first draft.

Above is a picture of the manuscript I just printed out. Note that it is on three-hole punch paper. Note also the section dividers; there's one for each chapter.

Here are the basic facts of the manuscript:

• 278 Typed Pages
• 85,426 Words
• 23 Chapters

I've inserted the typescript into a locking D-ring binder. My plan is to read the novel straight through, cover to cover, just as I would any other novel. I do this for continuity's sake.

Up to this point, I've been drafting, editing, and revising successive chapters on my computer one at a time. This next step is to ensure the entire book is consistent and non-repetitive. To follow the narrative through-line. To gauge the pacing. To assess the structural/emotional feel of the whole.

As I go along I will make my changes on paper with my trusty Sanford Uni-Ball Deluxe Micro (pictured above). Then later, when I've finished, giving the manuscript one last going over, I will input the changes I've made onto the (stripped down, no bells and whistles) MicroSoft Word for Mac (Version 15) computer file. Lastly, I will run a SpellCheck. At that point, perhaps by mid-summer, my book will be ready for submission.

Comments? Questions?

29 May 2017

Is It Really Better to Burn Out Than to Fade Away?

As this blog approaches its tenth year anniversary—hard to believe, that—I have to ask if this blogger is approaching his burn out point.

I've let WoW fade away since that last burst of analytic anger about the colossal clusterfuck of our last presidential election.

I feel so helpless. So right yet so unheeded. (Did you even read what I wrote?)

People suck. They're stupid. Easily gulled. Fools, all. Why cast my pearls of wisdom before such swine?

Especially if no one is listening.

What? A record for posterity? Ha! I laugh at my own pretension.

Maybe Twitter has ruined me for long form observation and reasoning. It's so immediately gratifying.

Maybe it's ruined us all. (Threaders notwithstanding).

My second novel—in draft—is now finished. It's completely different than the first.

No one will buy it. I'm not a salesman. Not a Trump.

The first is a deep dive into the soul of a modern man, displaced and disintegrating. The drama is mostly internal.

The second is about the rise to the mainstream from the underground of the late 20th Century of what we now call the alt-right.

(1) => Psychology/spirituality. (2) =>Politicality/sociality.

(The next shoots for Universality/allegoricality. But that's another story. (Haha. Pun.).).

Much of my energies, I admit, were invested in the last push to finish the second book.

And, literally, the minute I typed "THE END", I opened another document file on my iMac and began novel #3.

It has achieved a certain momentum.

That tripled with my dismay at the foolishness of this country's politics and the seductive allure of Twitter has taken my attention away from you all in blogland.

Apologies to those listed and updating in the righthand column here. If I've not been clicking through to your posts, adding to your daily totals, it's on me. Not you.

All that being said, the future of this enterprise at WoW remains uncertain.

24 February 2017

Friday in the Met with Georges

Georges Seurat, Parade de Cirque
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is featuring the iconic painting above in its exhibit Seurat's Circus Sideshow through May 29, 2017. Find out more about Pointilism, Neo-ImpressionismGeorges Seurat and his works at Artsy.

Seurat, Une Parade

07 January 2017

Narrative Power: Power Narratives, Pt. 4

[Parts 1-3 can be found here, below this post]

The Democrats.

A very popular politician from a small New England state, a liberal icon in the Senate, runs a bruising, passionate primary campaign against the party's establishment favorite. He claims the "inevitable" choice of the party is too centrist, insufficiently liberal, weak. He pursues his insurgency campaign to the bitter end but fails to win a majority of primaries. Feelings are hurt all around, and the challenger and his followers dispute the results claiming he was cheated by the winner's insider cronies and a rigged primary system. At the national convention, the challenger seeks to change the rules to free up delegates pledged to the primary winner. There is even talk of drafting an "anybody but" the winner candidate. Eventually, though, in a grudging show of party unity, the challenger endorses his opponent—but in a less-than-wholehearted manner. And many of his followers vow they will never vote for the nominee. During the general election, the challenger's fervent, die hard supporters fail to support the party's nominee enthusiastically and do not show up in numbers to vote for the party's nominee. Ultimately (and partially due to third party candidacy support) the Democrat suffers a devastating loss to an outsider Republican in an election that resounds for a generation.

Does this narrative sound familiar? It should. The year was 1980. The establishment candidate was incumbent President Jimmy Carter. The liberal lion was, of course, Teddy Kennedy. John Anderson was the third party candidate, and Ronald Reagan was the eventual winner.

It is a fair narrative summary of the 2016 election as well—with, of course, some minor differences.

This was not, however, the narrative the Hillary Clinton campaign wanted to convey. After the conventions, I laid out my analysis of both campaigns' strategies, tactics, and messages.

In a nutshell, Clinton's was what I call an "all things to all people" campaign strategy. She used demographic data to microtarget various and diverse constituencies, deploying multiple surrogates to reach out to the groups she felt she needed to win. She aimed for a broad middle of the spectrum, believing she could attract some moderate or centrist Democrats and Republicans who, along with a growing Democrat base, would propel her to the Presidency. And, in fact, she won the popular vote by some 2.8 million votes—48.2% to 46.1%—but lost the Electoral College vote.

Her plan was derailed, somewhat, by having to cater to the Sanders primary insurgency, however. She capitulated to the policy demands of Sanders and his base—by some counts on nine out of ten key issues. But still they found reasons—often niggling—to reject her: for example, she's not trustworthy on TPP, she's in league with interventionist neo-Con hawks, she's in bed with neo-Liberal globalist economists.

Their lack of enthusiasm for her caused her to have to devote campaign resources to shoring up voters to her left; this took away from her targeting efforts aimed toward the moderate center. Simple subtraction; limited resources. And it was some 50,000 votes (less than 3% of her popular vote victory margin) in three battleground, rust belt states—Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania—that sealed her defeat in the Electoral College.

Clearly, when you try to be all things to all people, you are going to create tensions among diverse sets of constituents. If you appeal to the socialist left, you are going to alienate moderate conservatives. If you try to appeal to rational centrists, you are going to lose radicals and extremists. It is inevitable.

It is arguable that had Clinton not been forced to target wavering or lukewarm or rejectionist Sanders supporters in an effort to shore up her left flank, she might have been able to devote more precious campaign resources to target these working class areas. Arguable but by no means certain. It is, likewise, arguable that if she had sought to appease these Rust Belt, blue collar voters, she would have been vulnerable elsewhere. This is mere speculation, however. I will leave it to others, insiders with more empirical data and actual knowledge of the campaign's resource allocations, to determine whether Sanders poisoned the waters for her the way Ted Kennedy did for Jimmy Carter; but, nevertheless, from the outside, the narrative parallels are striking.

[to be cont'd]