Writing in Pieces: Blogging A Narrative Novel

Writing friend Tara Lazar has some interesting thoughts about the ways writers are using Twitter and similar platforms to connect with readers.  She mentions me in the first paragraph of the linked post, but I’m especially interested in the idea of tweeting, say, a novel, or the mobile novel deal she mentions that’s going on in Japan.  The interactivity (in terms of direction) of the later is probably too much for me, but serialized novels in pieces on your mobile phone sounds right up my alley.

I’ve been thinking about serializing my manuscript in this space, and I’m especially tempted because of its format.  (It’s told in pieces by various narrators).  Perhaps even more fitting would be setting up blogs for each narrating character, with a link at the end of the first post that would go to the appropriate post on the next narrator’s blog and so on.  I may have to explore this.  Meta-blog novel?

Sufjan At The Nursing Home

A few days ago I told you about hearing “Chicago” at Friendly’s and being lost in a moment.   Today I was visiting a nursing home and the same thing happened.  A nursing home.  Bizarre.  I was gone for a minute.

My grandfather passed away last year.  He lived for a few years before that in a nursing home.  I found out before my visit to the home today that my dad, my sister, and I all dreamt about him (my grandfather) last night.

The Beloved and the Knowing

I’ve been thinking about Plato’s idea of the Beloved, and about how every decent pop song ever written exhibits the yearning for wholeness and completion that Plato locates in the Beloved.  This is, perhaps not coincidentally, also why so many pop songs can be rendered as peans to what we usually mean when we say “God.” (Brian Wilson knew this when he talked about “Smile” 40 years ago).   That’s really all I have to say about it; just that pop songs are almost invariably Platonic. Our relationship with the Beloved teaches us about ourselves, cultivates joy, and lifts us for observations of the divine.  (Brian Wilson knew this when when he wrote “God Only Knows” and knew it again the first time Carl finished singing the first line).
The spiritual tension isn’t always expressed as sexual/romantic.  Often it’s rendered in terms of what people usually mean when they say “platonic” in the first place.  How right they are, as it turns out.  All the Pink Floyd songs about Syd Barrett are about the platonic (in the popular and classical senses) friendship of Roger Waters and Barrett and then its loss, or rather Waters’ and the world’s loss of Barrett spiraling out from Barrett’s own loss of self.  God, those songs are good.
I suppose you need this yearning if you’re going to make art.  I suppose you need this sense of incompletion…I suppose this is why art has become so personal and why didactic art or message art is usually bad.  I suppose it’s also why you can hear and see yearning in art at all, that is, why you can receive it as such, why you can feel like you own it, why you can sing a stranger’s words and somehow still feel known and like you know.  And so then art is in the intuitive, emotional knowing that we are not finished. That we lack.  What it is we lack is something else.  God or human other, lover, loving, love?  But at least there is the knowing.

The Terse Realism of Second Grade

Nathan Key found this among his elementary school papers.  I love it.  Note the terse realism.

He also found our dinosaur reports.  Mine isn’t bad, but his is awesome.  This is the kind of thing he probably got in trouble for for not following the rules of the assignment, but I think he deserved extra credit.



Yeah, that is awesome.

Admit two, please

I just got the galley proof for next month’s issue of AdmitTwo which will feature a hundred-word piece by me that I combined with a creative commons licensed picture from Flickr (with appropriate credit and permissions from the photographer.  It’s the Dylan story some of you have read.

Now that that’s ready, I’ll be getting in touch with those of you that wanted to work on some pieces for future submission to this unique venue.


Mad World: R.E.M.? No. Gary Jules? Yes. Tears For Fears? First.

Peter Buck (REM), Taken at the Lancashire Coun...
Peter Buck via Wikipedia

Hey there, blog subscribers.  This is one of those old posts I’m republishing from the archive.  Usually, I’ll do this if there’s something going on that reminds me of an old post or if I’m just in the mood to jump back into old conversations.  In this case, it’s both.

R.E.M. does not sing “Mad World.” Gary Jules does. And it’s a Tears for Fears cover?  Those first two sentences are for the good folks finding their way here by searching “REM Mad World.”  The third sentence is an admission: if it’s not “Shout” or that other song, I don’t know it.  “Everybody Wants to Rule The World.”  That’s a great one.

I was listening to WXPN tonight and they were streaming some indie band who said “we promised to learn a song by the beautiful Leonard Cohen for tonight. But then we didn’t.” Just last night a friend emailed me and said “I actually don’t listen to all that much Leonard Cohen (interpretation, I don’t listen to leonard cohen but I don’t want to sound uncool by saying so straight out.”)  Get on that, sister.


1) This post is from July, 2008. Everyone who wasn’t already a Leonard Cohen fan then now surely is.  I need to ask my friend about that.

2) A few days ago, I heard The Decemberists talking about their new record, The King Is Dead.  Colin Meloy was getting into the influences behind the ablum’s vibe and used the adjective REMy. I thought, well yes, “Down By The Water” is basically “The One I Love” with different words, more accordion, and Gillian Welch.  Then David Dye mentioned that Peter Buck played on three tracks and asked Colin Meloy what that was like. Meloy said that Buck was really cool about the influence and put the band at ease by saying he learned everything he knew from the Byrds.  Turns out, by the way, that “Down By The Water” isn’t just an REM sound-alike, it’s a self-conscious tribute.  It’s a great song on it’s own, but I can’t get “The One I Love” out of my head whenever I hear it.  That’s not a bad thing, though, and it enables a pretty sweet indie/80s alt mashup when the Decemberists do the inevitable support spot for R.E.M. or joint-awards-show performance.  Speaking of mashups, I’m still waiting for my Wilco/Belle & Sebastian performance of “This Is Just a Modern Rock Song/California Stars.”  Come on, fellas.  Don’t make me do it myself.  I have a novel to finish.

Just Like Brian Wilson

The prompt was “something big is about to happen but history will get it wrong.”   This is a 100-word story.  I found the image here and used ComicLife to edit it and set up the graphic.