Scraps

Too long to be random bullets, and besides, they're really just only half-imagined things anyway...

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If you believe the counter in my word processor, I'm sitting at about 41,000 words between the two projects. The smaller one is done, more or less, and should be off to the editors in the next day or so. The larger one could be done by the end of next week.

As a writer - and let me say I'm using that term loosely - I'm drawn to the sentence level of construction. When I read books, sometimes I'm stopped by a particular sentence that seems so perfect and clear. In the book I'm reading now - The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano - a sentence stopped me tonight. It read: "I spent the rest of the day with Maria and chasing Maria." I'm not sure why it stopped me. The most perfect sentence I've ever read was also translated. I won't tell you what it was, because I found it, and it is probably only perfect to me.

According to that same counter, the larger project has just under 3,000 sentences in it. They average 11 words long, but the longest is 67. Not a single one of them has that sort of simple perfection. I don't think I've written one like that yet, in any format.

A boy can dream.

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Tonight, driving in the car, I didn't have my .mp3 player, and the car cd player had nothing like what I wanted to hear. Rounding a corner, I tried to remember what five discs I played in my room the first night I appeared in grad school to make the tiny, tripped out closet that was my room in the co-op seem a little more like home. I could only recall one was Lyle Lovett and another the Gipsy Kings.

I was frustrated because I'm not sure anything even on my .mp3 player would have been what I wanted for that particular moment in the car. If only I had my entire music collection everywhere I go

And that's when that creepy cyborg future hit me that we're probably only a few years off from having something like that. Some little chip or hard drive that holds who knows how much information stuck in some flap under the skin.

The drive wasn't the same after that.

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I'd taken the drive to go to the post office and the grocery store, and also to tease out why it is that distance adds significance to everything. For example, though I had things in my apartment to eat, there was nothing there I wanted, and the only things I wanted were far away. It seemed to me that something sweet that I had to go get must surely taste sweeter than something actually in my apartment.

But distance does that to most things, right? Silence seems more intense when distance is involved. Longing, too. Or so I've heard. And probably other things. Irony sometimes works better with time, so why not distance?

Distance is a lens for too many things, I thought.

And then, the wind picking up, the thought escaped me. Or I escaped it.

Comments

3 Responses to “Scraps”
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ash said...

1. Go back and re-read this post.

2. Revisit this sentence: "As a writer - and let me say I'm using that term loosely..."

3. Join me in calling bullshit on that self-deprecation.

Beautiful! Thank you.

July 17, 2008 at 11:58 AM
Notorious Ph.D. said...

I'm a paragraph girl myself, but I like the idea of the Perfect Sentence. I have a friend who blogs in beautiful prose. I envy her. But this post of yours in particular is full of it. Maybe it's because you're not trying to tell a story, but rather focused on painting a few small word pictures.

(in other words: what Ash said)

July 27, 2008 at 2:11 PM
Dr. Curmudgeon said...

I'd love to see what a perfect paragraph might look like. I thought I saw one once, in a Tom Robbins book, but it was really just a sentence stretched to the breaking point. Robbins was a weakness of mine, in that I loved trying to write like him but could never pull off that eloquence at the far end of sentence length the way he does.

Maybe that's why I'm so drawn to translated authors now: translators probably have to pay attention to nuance in a way most of us don't.

July 27, 2008 at 5:59 PM