Nostalgia Season Opener

“Nostalgia Season” Day One Work

There it is. Chapter one, page one of “Nostalgia Season”. At the upper-left corner is the date. I don’t remember exactly when I started writing “Lie”, so I thought I should date the first page. December 16th, 2013. Now I get to appreciate/”appreciate” how fast/slow I am as a writer. The title of the chapter is “I Don’t Know Your Name, So I’ll Call You…” It works on two levels: as a great introductory chapter title and as a nod to a dance song I like, “Medicine” by Kim Leoni. The latter is ironic because “Nostalgia Season” is, overall, a novel of heavy metal music. But the lyric (“I don’t even know your name, so I will call you “Medicine”, you can ease my pain”) was too good for me not to use. The first sentence of the novel has been in my head since shortly after I chose to make “Nostalgia Season” my next project. Before I wrote “Lie”, I read that the first sentence should grab the reader’s attention, which is why it started with the rather cheeky “‘Are you ready?'” With “Nostalgia Season”, I wanted a sense of gloom to hang over it, even at its lighter moments, so when the first sentence it me, I thought it was fantastic. “Tears stain the sidewalk of Desolation Row.” I never poked at it or tried to change it because it felt like the perfect opener. Funny thing I re-read about first sentences yesterday: that they immediately take away what the story could be and the rest of the story pays for it. The story has the potential to be anything until that first sentence is written. Then imagination is slowly replaced with execution, otherwise you’d have a story with lots of things happening that don’t make any sense.

Speaking of perfection, I’d like to address the p-word before I dive into a new novel. I believe that perfection, contrary to popular belief, isn’t an abstract and can be achieved by everyone. But perfection is different to everyone at all times. The perfect day for you isn’t the perfect day for me, and the perfect day for you when you’re nine isn’t the perfect day for you when you’re 38. Perfection is relative and achieved by a moment-to-moment basis. It also helps if there’s a monopoly on the end result. “Lie” isn’t the perfect novel, but it’s the perfect novel about a bunch of women who get together for a while and things get really weird in the last third. Perfection also comes from flaws. For some people, the perfect lover is someone who needs to be taken care of sometimes. For that to happen, there has to be something wrong with them. A flaw. But because of that, they’re perfect. For that person. And perfection can be improved upon, but at the cost of something else. Take “Lie”, for example. If I re-read it, I’ll find bits that I could’ve done better. I could go back and rewrite those bits, but “Lie” wouldn’t be the perfect novel about a bunch of women who get together for a while and things get really weird in the last third when I was 27. It’d be for when I’m 28, and my skills as a writer have changed along with my tastes. Along with the technical things, I’d start changing story things. Then the temptation would be to constantly change it until I create the perfect novel. But I’m always creating the perfect novel. But I wouldn’t see that. Also, science has proven that an artist should worry about creating often than creating The Thing. There was an art teacher who split a class into two halves. One half had to create one perfect pot, the other half had to create as many pots as they could. In the end, the quantitative half created better pots than the qualitative have.

Being my own cheerleader, my subconscious took it upon itself to help out. Last week, I had a crisis of conscience and I was punished for it severely in a dream. The next day, I came around and was treated to a great dream. Last night, I looked at my corkboard and I saw that the first chapter was as planned as it was gonna get so I decided that today was when I’d start writing (and hopefully have at least half of the 45 pages done by the end of the year). I only had one dream that I could remember, but it was enough. I feel that dreams are private things so I won’t go into detail, but I will say that when it was over, I was filled with two very different emotions. It was one of those dreams that you wake up immediately at the abrupt end, so both emotions were strong. One was “I hope that comes true…”, the other was “Oh no.” It was a lot like when Spike dreamt of Buffy. “I hope that comes true…” is an obvious reaction, but “Oh no.” intrigued me. It wasn’t “Oh no.” like Spike’s “Oh no.”, but we did have the same intensity in our “Oh no.”‘s. Mine came from a… “I don’t wanna dream about this because I really want it, REALLY fucking want it, but it’s an absurd dream that maybe has a chance of not happening more than happening and I’ve been too beaten by the world to allow myself to think about things like that” place. And a “We both know that you’re not like them and could never be like them, but the sort of thing that you’re thinking about is at the level of those sad people with unironic shrines to celebrities” place. Those things made me think about an odd through-line in my life.

Everything I’ve REALLY wanted, I’ve gotten and gotten in a way that went beyond what I originally thought. Nothing fickle like dating the hot girl in high school (I’ve come a LONG way to be able to admit that idea was fickle…). What’s a good example… ah. In 2007, “Dark Knight” was filming in Chicago and since I live close to the Windy City, I REALLY wanted to see what I could. I was a BIG fan of Batman and of the director, Christopher Nolan (still am). When “Batman Begins” was filming there, I had a chance to audition to be an extra but I ended up being a sorta pawn in someone else’s… Long story, they’re fucked-up, I’ve moved on. Anywho, in the interim twixt “Batman Begins” and “Dark Knight”, I realized that being an extra would’ve sucked for me because I wanted to see how films were made (because I wanted to direct) and not be in a film (because I didn’t wanna be an actor). So the opportunity presented itself that summer to see some things. And I did see some things. Oh, the things I did see. Before I go on, I wanna point out that I wasn’t one of those people who leaked things onto the internet. As far as I was concerned, it was an honor being able to see stuff and I wasn’t gonna betray any of that for a little notoriety on a few forums. Methinks the crew noticed that because I got to meet Nolan, I could’ve gotten a few Joker cards, I saw the Tumbler explode, I saw Joker’s truck ram the SWAT van… and I saw Heath Ledger as Joker. Multiple times. I wasn’t expecting to see any of that, I just REALLY wanted to be there. Things like that have always happened to me, and something I’ve come to expect about the things that don’t happen to me is that I didn’t want them enough. And that they wouldn’t have done much for me in the long run. I mean, it would’ve been cool to have married the hot girl in high school… but I would’ve ::shudders:: settled into modernity. A wife, 2.5 kids, and a 9-5 job? Quelle horreur! I’m not knocking people who enjoy that life, it’s just not the one for me. At all.

The interesting thing about the waking dream is the road. I REALLY want what I saw in the dream, and it’s achievable (in an abstract way), but the only way I could achieve it is if I stayed on the road I’m on and continued being productive and awesome. Which is a reason why I “Oh no.”‘d when I woke up. Let’s say that I became king of my hill and didn’t get what I REALLY wanted. With my crown came nothing. But I can’t allow myself to think like that. You don’t achieve your goals by second-guessing and pondering “What if?” You get it by showing your war face. I know what happens to people who give up, I see it when I go out, and I’ve got too much to do and REALLY want to do something as silly as that. Well… if I don’t get what I REA– Fuck that. As far as I’m concerned, I’m gonna get what I REALLY want. I’ve spent most of my life playing second-fiddle to a lot of things. Time to start rockin’ the lead electric guitar.

I’ve spent two hours writing this… why not read something that took me six months? My first novel, “Lie”, is about four women who go on vacation to help one of their own through a life-changing decision, and here are the first four chapters. If you like what you read, treat yourself to it as an eBook for only $1.99 wherever they’re sold. Thanks for reading.

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