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Non-putty

Wednesday 11/25/20

Was heading out to go to Starbucks--first time out all day--when my sister texted me that she ordered me a calzone and desserts at Bova's for tomorrow, because I'll be alone. That was really nice. As I made my way to Starbucks first, I encountered an old woman who asked me where the Golden Goose--that convenience story from the recent "You Open?" entry on here--was. Said she lived in the North End for thirty years and she was lost. I told her how to get there, but she didn't seem to understand, so I walked to the store with her. The Starbucks was empty, and as I waited for my drink, as I stood looking out the window, "God Only Knows" came on. Small things, on a Thanksgiving Eve, in succession. Quiet moments. And they add up a little in their very moment-ness, and you just think, okay, keep going, keep trying, try harder tomorrow.


I had an op-ed come out today in the New York Daily News, which I think is really strong, really timely, and very honest. It's about making the most of a lonely Thanksgiving, and Billie Holiday, art, and me. I like seeing Billie Holiday's image in the op-ed section of one of the highest circulation newspapers in America. I think that's pretty cool. I hope I'm doing that Billie Holiday book--I don't know what else I could prove at this point.


I wrote another story today, called "On the Cable." Began composing it around six this morning, had to work on it throughout the day. Another one for Longer on the Inside. That's four more this week, after three last week.


Pratt said something interesting yesterday during that segment that I should have mentioned. He said that most of the time in contemporary fiction, a character is but a prop. He's right. The character is a device--it's the plastic dagger that Macbeth might hold, it's not Macbeth. I cannot think of a single author right now who creates characters who are not props. When your character is a prop, that prop is moved around to fit into the desires of what the writer is trying--often desperately--to make that story be. In other words, the character is utilitarian, not autonomous. By autonomous I mean filled with his or her own natural life and naturalness. The thoughts of that character, the desires, the decisions that character would make in certain situations. Most writers approach character from the wrong way around. For them, it is the character who determines the action, not vice versa, which is more in line with shoehorning, than storytelling. Determining the action can be a result of reacting to action in a way that is consistent with who that person is, or points to who they are becoming. Most writers use a character as if it was a tube of Silly Putty. They write themselves into corners, then the character--the prop--is tweaked so as to explain the corner or allow for its inclusion in the work. No one wants this as a reader, because what it denies the reader is the point of contact--the connective point of contact with another real human being. Because this is not a real human being. It's a prop.