Thursday, November 29, 2007

Million Word Output

By Pauly
New York City

Two steps forward, one step back. That was my progress on Wednesday with the writing project. I cranked out almost 5,500 words but I cut 3,000 words from a few previous chapters. I have written in excess of 26,000 spread out over two weeks with about nine solid days of writing and several days off in between. I realized that NaNoWriMo is ongoing and that I could have started late and finished it... but I chose not to. I have nothing against NaNo (in fact they helped me write three of my previous novels), it's just that's not my goal. NaNo is in place to help/force people to write everyday. My main obstacle is not finding enough time to write, instead of lacking the discipline and motivation. Besides, my goal is to write slower and have better material at the end of each day. I want 2,000 great words instead of 5,000 average stuff.

If I counted up everything I have written this month on all of my blogs and freelance writing assignments, I'm sure I'm way past the 100,000 mark. I did some simple math and I crank out no less than one million words a year. According to my 10% rule (where I think that 10% of what I actually say is relevant; the other 90% is pure horseshit), that means 100,000 words were valid and represent my best work.

On Wednesday night, I attempted to go to bed early so I could wake up early to go running before I wrote. Instead, I stayed up very late and read older books. I have a hard cover copy of The Paris Review, which is a published version of the best of their publications. I read several selections from their luminous list of authors which included some of my favorites such as Nabakov, Toni Morrison, Truman Capote, Jose Luis Borges, Philip Roth, James Baldwin, and Paul Auster. Of course the heavy hitters are in there such as Hemingway, Thompson, Burroughs, and Keroauc.

I read a short story from Kerouac called The Mexican Girl or something like that. It started out very simple... Kerouac was in LA and waiting for a bus to take him to Mexico. He spotted a beautiful Mexican girl and he just went off for 15,000 words on a journey... all inspired by the site of the girl.

The next thing I knew, it was 4am and I had been up for three or four hours thumbing through old books. Research? Digging for inspiration? A little of both.

I passed out and woke up by 8am. I ran for a bit and then came home. I went back outside to the Greek diner. As I waited for my breakfast sandwich, I edited some of the stuff I had written the day before. Two old Jewish guys sat in a booth and discussed New York sports. These guys were better than Mike and the Mad Dog. One guy said, "Sunday is Eli Manning's last chance to prove he can play in the NFL. If he can't win, then he's done."

Then the two argued back and forth about the lowly Knicks. They wanted to string up Marbury and Isaiah Thomas. One of the guys said that the Knicks blew it and should have tried to get Kevin Garnett, because based on how the Celtics look, they might go deep into the playoffs. I snickered. I love listening to New Yorkers pontificate about sports. Everyone is a fuckin' expert.

I handed in one of my assignments today and it felt good to be done with a deadline. I have one more deadline on Monday morning, and of course, I have not started the piece yet. I'll get to it on Saturday. I work best when I have less than 48 hours to complete an assignment. I thrive on pressure.

I'm more than halfway done with the Saturday Night Live book. They are in the early 1990s during the Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, and Chris Farley days. I should be able to finish the book by the end of the year. But it takes time to get through 600 pages. Some of the stories are gems, especially the random drug abuse that went down inside the hallways and offices of 30 Rock. It appears to be much more tame these days, but back in the 1970s, the seventeenth floor reeked of pot. Writers and actors were ripping rails of blow on desks to stay up late in order to write bits.

When I was a kid, I tried my best to stay up late to watch SNL. One of the first episodes I had ever seen was during the Eddie Murphy years. I guess I'm dating myself, because I can recall watching the skinny funny black man in a sketch where a group of guys were dressed like Arabs and kept saying, "We are from Middle East country, but not from Libya."

In high school, all the cool kids watched Letterman and SNL. I could swing the SNL, but Letterman was tough. When my family finally got a VCR, I would tape Letterman at night and wake up early to watch him. That was back in 1987-89 when Letterman was on NBC at 12:30. Of course the mid 1980s were some of his best years.

Back to the grind... I only have a couple of days left to write before I fly to the left coast and do serious damage to my liver and kill thousands of more brain cells...

Recent Writing Music....
1. Traffic
2. Miles Davis
3. Medeski, Martin & Wood with John Scofield
4. The New Mastersounds
5. John Coltrane with Thelonius Monk

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