Thursday, November 03, 2005
Nightmare at 50,000 Words!
I am a glutton for punishment. Why else would I decide to partake in National Novel Writing Month? (That's NaNoWriMo for those of you who want to be in the know, or who have a thing for really shitty acronyms.) From November 1st to 30th, I, amongst many others around the country, must write 50,000 words, a first draft for a novel. 1600 words a day. Every day. So I decided, what better thing to do than to update my blog, which I have neglected for some time now, during this massive undertaking? Because that's what I need. To type more words. I seriously need someone to hit me over the head with a sock filled with nickels.
So I'll try to update this from time to time, keep the three people who check this blog -- myself, Keith, and apparently some dude who wants me to join his online dating service -- up to date on my progress, and maybe, if I'm feeling generous, post some of my writing.
So here goes. A little excerpt from chapter one. Bear in mind, this is beyond rough, and to quote the great mustached American author Mark Twain, "The first draft of anything is shit." I think I read that on a Starbucks cup. Or a sugar packet.
Either way, enjoy:
It was with increasing frequency that Stanley Urbach found himself sitting in front of his old Smith Corona typewriter at three in the morning with nothing to say. The piece of battered metal in front of him had done its share of talking over the years, that was for sure. There were times back in the old days, the good days, when Stanley would punch those keys until his fingers bled, the redness smearing up both the pages and the ever present handrolled cigarette which would dangle from his mouth and bounce rhythmically as he muttered the words he typed. Yep. The days when he was writing the Crimson Avenger novels were surely the good days.
One hundred thirty seven novels in five years. Hard to believe. But there was never an off switch. Stanley would live, eat, breath, sleep, hell even shit the Crimson Avenger. It was his other personality, his secret identity, and a release he so rarely could find in everyday life.
Now, Stanley would rub his gnarled and calloused fingers together, place them atop the home row of the typewriter (of course, he was a hunter and pecker by nature. Never did take any typing lessons) and there they would sit, never moving. He was fresh out. His well was tapped. And even at the ripe old age of eighty-nine, when most men his age were happy they were able to piss by their own faculties, it bothered him.
The reasons for his waking would vary. Sometimes, it would be his waterworks, gummed up and not working, or flowing like a river to a delta. Sometimes, it was the arthritis. And then there were times when it would be the dreams, always Esther in the sun, smiling up at him as she tucks a flower, a white daisy, behind her ear. She’d shake her rose colored hair at the sun and laugh like the world was her joke. Those were the times he’d wake up and rest his hand on the cold side of the bed she’d used to sleep on and wish that he hadn’t woken up at all.
He’d sit in his office by the light of a small lamp perched on his desk. The room was cramped, cluttered. It held the destruction of a large copse of trees, pages upon pages of words, enough to drown in. He’d sit and stare at the typewriter. Oh sure, its ribbon was broken, had been for years now. He’d noticed it and was about to drive on out to whatever kind of store would still carry a ribbon for a relic like his, had his jacket in his hand, and then set it down and made a cup of tea instead. Who needed it? He’d recall the photo that started it all, a man standing beaming in front of a window display. New York City, it was, so far from the rural back country Stanley Urbach was used to. The man had his arms crossed, chest held high. Behind him the window advertised for Smith Corona typewriters, a life-sized picture of Walter Gibson, the man behind The Shadow, saying something along the lines of “Two Champions! The Corona and The Shadow! Corona is a good typewriter, but Grant is a great type-writer – and The Shadow is the most amazing types in all fiction!” He still chuckled when he thought of that. Young, naïve little Stan running into the Sears Roebuck in Ashtonville, begging the man behind the counter to order him a Smith Corona, the exact one Mr. Walter Gibson used.
That was a lifetime ago. He never would have guessed where that typewriter would get him. He never would have guessed he’d be the creator of the Crimson Avenger, a pulp hero whose days had come and gone, burned bright for the briefest moment, and then disappeared amongst the nickel bin at the supermarket.
Kinda like Stanley himself.