Thursday, January 31, 2008

Band-Aid recursion

I have a 10-page short story to write tonight. Due by 1pm tomorrow. I haven't been putting it off or procrastinating or anything like that. I simply have not had enough time to work on it because it hasn't been as urgent a priority as work of my others classes simply because of due dates.

And now I'm going to be reaping the consequences of my decision to take 17 credits this quarter. And let me note that 5 of those credits are for a Computer Animation class that is really 10-12 credits worth of work. If I was taking only that class, I would still feel like I was taking a comfortable, not difficult though, full-time load.

That said, I made a conscious decision to take 17 credits, including this prose class, knowing that animation would be as much if not more of a bitch than last quarter--at this point, I'd say it's more of a bitch. But what's undeniable is the sheer amount of shit I'm learning in it. That is mos def true.

Of course, because of my ridiculous schedule, I've hardly had much time to spend wiht Marie, especially this last week or so. Naturally, it's been pretty rough for her. And when things is rough for her...they're rough for me. At the moment, I'm locked in a bit of an argument with her about whether or not I should come home tonight--

I'm at the undergrad library at uw, which is where I do my emergency writing, and I'm leery of going home because of the enormous amount of writing I have to do. If I went home now, I'd be surprised if I started writing before 2am. And I need to try to be half-finished by two, not getting started.

To be sure, I have a "plan" and two.five pages already written and I am something of a fast writer--but I have really bitten off quite a bit for myself this time.

To wit:
The story is a metaphor for the unending cycle of war, using the model of the myth of Sisyphus, transplanted onto the life of an aid station combat medic in an unnamed combat zone. I've also thought of leaving his name un-named as well. I'm still debating that count.

The story moves in cycles of three: Three incidents of trauma, three incidents of mundanity, bookended (as of this moment) by a first a scene in a mess hall where we meet the medic and his ill-fated medic buddy, and a final scene where he essentially becomes aware that this cycle of his daily routine, is for all intents and purposes, unending. The final line, I'm not sure if this is spoken or not, is : "All bleeding end eventually. Be patient."

That's it in a nutshell.

Some thoughts I've had today on it:
- The story is already rightfully episodic, I should embrace that and really highlight that as an attribute by adding perhaps chapter-breaks dare I say it, episode breaks?
- To reenforce the cyclical nature, I could keep flashing back to the mess-hall scene throughout, breaking the linear monotony of the episodes by, Lost-style, having flashbacks that reveal a truth about the current story.
- I'm not sure if I want to have the entire scene during the first flash-back, and with each subsequent one, just pare it down more and more until it's a purely graphical image
- Or if I want to break it up into relevant parts. I kind of think it could work either way, though it really might be better the latter way. That way the story's always moving forward.
- I think to help differentiate the flashbacks from the real-time stories, I'd like to have each one told in a different voice. Same character, just first person in one, 3rd in another.
- Should one be told in past tense and another in present? The perspective may help determine this...Though, do I want to be contrarian, or linear?
- The end, regardless of which way the perspective changes go, needs to be a sublimation of the two. And I think it ought to be told in first person.
- So if the end is in first person, present tense too, then perhaps the hospital scenes should be in first-person past tense, and the mess-hall scenes in third-person present
- I still need to figure out what to do with the bloody hands. It's a nice image, but it ultimately may not work

This is easily going to be the most flat-out ambitious story I've ever written. In terms of story, I've had to do a fair amount of research (both on technical stuff and on similar prose-efforts at extreme irony). Technically, this is going to be massively ambitious as well. And my slowly growing desire to make the arrangement of words on the page have a purely visual graphic quality as much as it has a linguistic quality will also be taken many steps beyond my last attempt. And I don't think I've ever had a more perfect marriage of theme and content in any of my work. I'm not sure I've ever had any fore-thought marriage of theme and content though, now that I think of it.

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