Friday, April 9, 2010

in this installment, james delves the archives

So while I was researching the soon-to-be-HBO-series of my favorite fantasy novel(s)--Kathy, they're great, check them out--I stumbled on the author's blog ... still written on LiveJournal?

From college until 2008, LiveJournal was thriving with friends, a protozoic Facebook wonderland of meet-ups, silly videos, and ludicrous GIFs.

Now, it's dead, a skeleton of another life, different friends ...

I was poking around my archives and found this little gem dated Sept. 7th, 2007:

Meeting Mark Z. Danielewski (Daniel-EFSKI! as Poe would yell from the back of the crowd) was absolutely incredible.

He read three excerpts from Only Revolutions, and one section of House of Leaves that he realized, only recently, he was actually ABOUT Only Revolutions, even though he hadn't started his second novel yet.

Questions were good. Sam and Hailey were based on two homeless punk rockers he ran across on a street corner.

I asked him how hands on he was in the final layout of his books and he laughed and said, "what do you think?" after an evening of proving his OCD-like perfectionism.

"Let me rephrase," I said. "It was your first novel, did they laugh at you?"

He then told the story of how the publisher wanted to print House of Leaves in its original format which, since MZD only has Word to work with, was in basic block text form. He begged them, but they were dubious. So his sister, Poe, said "just fly out there."

He said, "I'm already $35,000 in debt."

She said, "So what's 400 more? Buy a ticket!"

And he did, and he lives in the Random House copy room, learning all their software, and did the ENTIRE layout of House of Leaves himself. (For those not in the know, House of Leaves has a bizarre, intricate layout that forces you to twist, turn, flip, and hold the book to a mirror in order to read certain passages.)

How cool is that?

So I bought a paperback edition of Only Revolutions, stood in line to have him sign it, and he asked me about writing, I told him about Edgewood (my endlessly "in the works" novel), and he shook my hand and said, "don't stop til it's finished. It's what you have to do."

And I wilted like a Victorian hand maiden if Hugh Grant had gone back in time and learned their vernacular.

Is there such thing as a Victorian hand maiden?


Reading this was a bit discouraging in somes ways. On the one hand, Edgewood is unfinished and, at the time I wrote this, I was furiously digging into the second act. It's been sitting frozen at 40,000 words for quite a while now.

But, in that time I've co-founded a magazine, produced handful of short stories and short scripts, co-written a full length screenplay, and got married. So, you know what? This novel will be finished. One day. In the meantime, I have life to live. And more Danielewski books to read.

3 comments:

KathyB. said...

I think I will have to read his books, and you better keep writing. What's the worst that can happen? Rejection, then revision or editing, and then - PUBLISHED!Or you can publish it yourself. Remind me to tell you about a lady who blogged her wonderful book into publication, I get to read the end of her exciting Viking story when it is out and for sale~her publishers would not let her finish it on-line. YOU could easily do this, no frills or gadgets, just pure writing. People will read blogs with no pictures if the writing is good.( hint, hint)

Gooseshooter said...

If the only one who reads and enjoys is your wife, join the club. It's for you, her and us. Then, the fame and fortune. Hang in!!!!!!

Tor Hershman said...

Readin's fur stewpid peapoles.