I have been quite busy for the last week with preparing for and appearing at the Launch Pad Coffee House (next one is 8:00PM on June 16 at Churchill Park United Church, 525 Beresford), and have therefore not done any work on my new novel, The Tourist, except for graphing chapter lengths and types (see blogs). But I thought it would be fun to throw some of the work out there and see what gets thrown back. I hope you all enjoyed (or at least were intrigued by) Chapter One . Check our The Tourist (1) to (9) for the story of how I got here.
Here? Here is nearly finished the last chapters of the book, some written in the familiar way, and some by a process I call ‘repainting’. By one means or another, draft chapters 1 to 91 inclusive, and 95, 96, 98, 103, and 104 are done. Chapters 92, 94, 97, 99, 100, 101, and 102 are still to be repainted. Over and above these, I estimate that about another 6 to 10 chapters are still required - mostly written the old-fasioned way. I tried in earlier blogs to explain what this all means, so I won’t repeat. But, to give an idea what a repainted chapter looks like, I’ll show Chapter 27, which is a repaint of Chapter One shown in my blog of May 18.
The sun sulked from the bondage of wiping the Winnipeg late afternoon with a coat of comfort, and of darkening the afternoon lonely shadows one more time before nightfall with a shellacking coat of deep, semi-transcendent shimmer. The blank faces of the All-too-common predatory panhandlers moved in and out of these shadows as they grudgingly retreated from teasing the pensioners. The pensioners were immune, having already armored themselves to face the indignity of registering for social assistance at the chilly Department of Social Services building at the corner of Give-Up and Break-Your-heart Streets. The pensioners, along with the interns for this career of counting on/expecting/getting nothing in this/from this/out of this life, schlepped their witches brew of real or imagined or faked hard luck stories, in tin cups, up to the building and into the bureaucratic slow motion maelstrom. They then stepped back to grab onto the hanging straps of their N’er Do Well transit limos, and putt-putted on down the road to ruin, completing their part in every morning’s intense sweep and scrub of society, ridding it of Christ’s second commandment.
The agent sat in the window corner of Pockets, and frowned at the pat perfectness of his predicament here; here in Winnipeg, here on McDermot Avenue, here in the bistro renovated at great expense to the proprietor in days gone by, by the by to the hero of the here and now. He had just then laid his hat on top of the fax that lay on the small circular table that took up the two feet that separated him from the window glass that shrugged off the late afternoon street scene – of the Exchange District as seen through the mobile ghastliness of the not-so-few late afternoon too-late-forever for spring transients. The hat provided the remedial few minutes needed to absorb the letter beneath the hat’s final fatality, so much as it could be obtained short of the purgatory of confirmation by others.
A frown, a bigger frown, and then an uncontrollable head wide scowl signposted a screw-up so, so sour. Ronald Byfield sought the support of rigid self-control as he turned both mentally and metaphorically away from the emotions he was compelled to process. Come confused confrontation or unilateral retreat, the bell of the first round had been sounded. He had not received a draft of the novel, the second, hear that word suspiciously, the second novel. Not the first, completely uneconomic effort, which a mere flunky with a half-assed effort and half-hearted spending could bring to half-assed more than half public subsidized publication. No, the second novel, the one that would command commercial success, commercial in that it is propelled to profit, sucked out of the matrix of serious interrelationships; between, amongst, around, about, because of, as a result – reading publics, publishers, agents, friends, family, fiends, phantasms. In a few words, a second novel had been inevitably required by the bank. He, the absent author was choking on coughing up a second novel – unreal!
He hadn’t. Come again? The next thing to do? In micro, maybe pay the tab. “Waiter, the cheque?” In macro? Fly over to London, PDQ, the PDQ he had always reserved for the coupe de gras? The stop time he noted with satisfaction. Ron had anticipated some hand-holding sooner rather than later, as he had the prior series of pep talks for momentum, and the heart-to-hearts for confidence, as he had the prior pick-me-ups for solidarity, the prior major re-calibrations for purpose, as he had the original tabla-rosa efforts for inspiration, and as he had the initial investment, such as it is for first time fiction writers That all being true, the newly deflated agent ruminated on options - stay on in Winnipeg for a few more, disciplined days, because its always calming to take a time-out in Winnipeg. Or check out of his tempest in a teapot stewpot at the Lombard and push on to check out the triangular love-fest festering in London, because it’s always correct to punch out somebody in London.
Mister Ron Byfield’s client’s publisher’s European reps enriched the micro-biology that sinned against the symbiosis of London. Another frown indicated the agent’s dyspepsia, ulcerated as he was with figures at that time, at the notion of these expense account sucking, eminence grease-ball Brits of his acquaintance enriching - anyone, anytime, by any measure, save perhaps if calorie stuffed luncheons qualified as enriching.
Winnipeg is quiet, Winnipeg is sweet, Winnipeg is duty, and Winnipeg is wheat. But London is gun-em-down town, so London-ward he was bound. The check came and went back again with the agency company credit card. Ron crumpled the misguided missive in his hand in the manner of magistrates in the times before mercy for those without connections, swept his eyes slowly over the corny-for-casual-custom-but-cute- anyway pool-hall/pick-up joint interior, and thumped through the get-away-from-here door – conscious of and grinding in the not playacting ornery-ness of his bearing.
Subject: Re: Version Control
I will be in London as soon as possible. Maybe tomorrow. Don’t form any firm plans with the London reps, and Bill, for God’s sake have a hard look at them and yourself. Not with your author’s eyes, but your reality eyes for once – if you have any!
Subject: Re: Version Control
I don’t like your tone.
Subject: Re: Version Control
Once again - that’s not the f-ing point! Okay, sorry for the tone, but please take this seriously.
Subject: Re: Versio Control
I’ll try. We’re all tense. I have a hangover.
Cool or just weird?
The sun luxuriated in the privilege of wrapping the Paris late morning in a cloak of warmth, and of brushing the morning-only puddles once over lightly with a primer coat of smooth, semi-gloss shine. The black faces of the Moroccan street sweepers gratefully relaxed the tension that had armored them against the indignity of the chilly Isle de France break of day. They slung their witches brooms of bundled sticks back into the caddy, stepped back onto the running boards of their Ville de Paris min-vans, and putt-putted on down the road to complete their part of every morning’s intense sweep and scrub of the dear heart of Paris.
The author sat in the window corner of L’Autre, and smiled at the pat perfect ness of his situation here - here in Paris, here on the Rue des Ecoles, here in the bistro dedicated casually to great authors of days gone by, here in the here and now. He had just then laid his plume on the small circular table that took up the two feet that separated him from the window glass that shrugged off the late morning street scene – of the Latin Quarter as seen through the mobile grime of the few early morning late spring tourists. The pen had made the remarkably few marks needed to bring the manuscript beside the pen to pat perfect-ness, so close as it could be approached prior to the purgatory of edits by others.
A smile, a bigger smile, and then an uncontrollable head wide grin signposted a satisfaction so, so sweet. Bill Constant sought the support of the frail cane chair’s back as he leaned both literally and metaphorically away from the emotions he was compelled to process. Come comprehensive success or universal scorn, the main mast of the ship was raised. He had a draft of the novel, the second, hear that word closely, the second novel. Not the first, maybe fluky effort, which any flunky with half a life behind him might bring to half-life. No, the second novel, the professional effort, professional in that it is propelled to being, slung out of the matrix of serious interrelationships; between, amongst, around, about, because of, as a result of – reading publics, publishers, agents, friends, family, fiends, and phantasms. In a few words, a second novel had been inevitably required. He needed to cough up a second novel - to be for real.
He had, come hell or hysterics. The next thing to do? In micro, maybe pay the tab. ‘Serveur, l’additone?’ In macro? Play out the rest of the week, the last of the time he had reserved for the final edit? The surplus time he noted with satisfaction. Bill had completed the nit-picking sooner than expected, as he had the prior series of edits for style, and the prior edits for coherence, as he had the prior re-drafts for sense, and the prior major re-writes for purpose, as he had the original blank paper efforts of imagination, and as he had the initial research, such as it is for fiction. That all being true, the newly professional author luxuriated in options - stay on in Paris for a few more carefree days, because its always correct to stay on in Paris. Or check out of his ten foot by twelve foot flop at Le Moderne St. Germaine and push on to check into an eight foot by ten foot demi-flop in London, because its always correct to push on to London.
Monsieur Constant’s publisher’s European reps worked out of a micro office in London. Another smile indicated the author’s pleasure, besotted as he was with words at that time, at the notion of these chain-smoking, grey skinned Brits of his acquaintance ‘working out.’ - anywhere, anytime, for any reason, save perhaps if casual sex qualified as working out.
Paris is great, Paris is fine, Paris is beauty, and Paris is wine. But London is fun town, so London-ward he was bound. The check came and went back again with the publishing company credit card. Bill cradled his marked manuscript in his arms in the manner of schoolgirls in the times before backpacks and without boyfriends, swept his eyes slowly over the cookie-cutter-for-American-custom-but-cute-anyway interior of the bistro, and swooshed through the always open door – conscious of and reveling in the playacting artsy-ness of his bearing.
The waiter (Rafel by name) smiled a private smile generated by what he took for insider information about the artist’s truths and the artists’ affectations. The smile gradually faded as the softly sad facts, the facts of his own state and state of mind returned, more as a fog than a cold shower, but still unmistakable – his was outsider information. From all that his life had so far shown, he was not destined to come inside and warm by the muse’s fire. So what! He was French, and that was certainly something. The waiter cleared up the meager mess - a plate, a smaller plate, a knife, a fork, a spoon, a tasse, and a glass. That’s how he recited to himself as he cleaned up. He knew he was a versifier and not a poet. But he was French, and that was certainly something. The waiter spotted a small stack of loose papers on the companion chair to the one Bill had sat in. picked them up, rolled them up and tucked them under his arm, before semi-swooshing through the swinging doors to the kitchen. He good-naturedly popped a favourite English expression back over his shoulder, “Fu-kin-gh tourist!
Subject: Version Control
Don’t send me any e-files of the manuscript until you are at the stage to submit to publisher. You don’t need agent’s help working out kinks, plus security is an issue over internet. Hope Paris has been more than a place to work.
Subject: Re: Version Control
Okay, you the boss. Paris just (terrific) atmosphere so far, but soon will do the town!
Six more sleeps until The Launch Pad Coffee Shop on May 19 at Churchill Park United Church, 525 Beresford. Doors open at 7:30PM. Open mike for all sorts of talents starts at 8:00PM.
On Friday I rode and walked along the six block section of Main Street running north from Logan Avenue, to fill in the blanks of my knowledge of the buildings and the streets, as I had imagined them, circa the year 2006. The main character of the book, Bill Constant, ends up hiding out at the Bell Hotel after a series of large shocks to his peace of mind. In the recent past he had explored famous sections of Paris and London. In his later ‘knocked down’ condition, he is doing the same on Skid Row in Winnipeg, trying to figure something or other out.
When I started writing the book, I had personal experience of, and access to photos of the European places to be referred to in the new novel. It has only been in the last few weeks of writing that it has become apparent that Bill needs to spend some time among the ‘down and out’ to put his woes in perspective. My own photos of the old countries were good enough to guide my composition. However, I am happy to state that I have small personal knowledge (touch wood) of Skid Row, and no souvenir snaps! Hence my reconnaisance.
I toyed with the idea of asking my pal Darren Fast (www.solaltaphoto.com) o take some new shots on North Main. He had done a great job taking, assembling, and projecting the slides for our gang’s (Darren, Tony Buchner, and me) multi-media performance of my poem and song Soldier’s Cemetery at the last The Launch Pad Coffee House*. That went so well that it occurred to me that someone like Darren might be interested in putting together a portfolio of pictures to accompany the entire book! But I desisted, in light of; 1) Darren’s already full business and artistic calender, 2) the already stupid level of complexity of this project, and 3) the heart attack my publisher would suffer, My advisors, who are much saner than me, had already (I think) talked me out of trying to put a soundtrack to The Tourist, like I had done for my first effort, Except My Love For You.
Speaking of complexity, today being Saturday, I did not write. Instead, I started work on a bar graph of the book’s chapters, comparing chapter lengths by number of words, and ultimately color-coding the relationship between the recurring chapter structures (described in (1) to (7) hereof) and other characteristics. The initial visual impression was quite suggestive. I ultimately hope to co-ordinate the lengths, the structures, and the nature of all the chapters. Theoretically, on completion the book would combine the power of both poetry and prose.
Of the first 30 chapters so far analyzed, out of 23 ‘types’ used, 7 have already recurred at least once. If you think this is the mother of all delusional ‘biting off more than you can chew’ exercises - you are probably right. My agent is already in therapy.
* The 3rd Wednesday of each month, the next being May 19. Doors open 7:30PM, open mike (all talents) starts at 8:00PM, at Churchill Park United Church, 525 Beresford,
Don’t forget The Launch Pad Coffee House, with open mike for talent of all kinds. May 19 at Churchill Park United Church, 525 Beresford. Doors open at 7:30PM. Coffee and treats on sale for cheap.