The Experimental Memoir - Day 1

I am not an English lady, preparing a party and planning on getting the flowers myself. I am not an Irishman spending a day in Dublin. I am not writing across the country with my son on the back of my motorcycle as I hunt for the ghosts of my past, or driving a van on the blue highways.

No, I am a grey bearded blogger sitting a cluttered office of a small house on the outskirts of New Haven, CT. I am setting off on my own journey, an experimental version of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, strongly influenced by these characters from great literature.

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Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit, For All The Saints, NaNoWriMo and the storm.

Well, we have power back, both at home and at work so today should be as close to a normal day as possible. It is All Saints Day, which has always been an important day to me. It is also the beginning of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. I am setting out to do a semi-fictionalized autobiographical novel about the month, following, in part, the writings of Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Robert Pirsig, William Least Heat Moon, and others. I will probably be sharing them as blog posts, so my blogging frequency is unlikely to decline, the length of my blog posts is likely to increase, but the variety of topics may decrease. Look for the first post later today.

Now, unto the normal activities of the day.

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#NaNoWriMo Pregame

It is 3 AM, and I should be sleeping, but an idea has emerged in my mind, and I'm having problems getting back to sleep, so I thought I would share it as a quick blog post and see what people think.

November is National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo. I've taken a crack at it a couple different times, completing 50,000 words the first year, starting off on a wrong track on another year. Last year, as I was transitioning to my new job, I didn't tackle it.

Part of my wrong track was a semi-autobiographical novel about transitioning from being a Wall Street technology executive to being what I am now. At the time, I was in the middle of the transition and not sure where it was leading. It was much more raw and harder to write so I set it aside.

Since then, I've been getting into more and more discussions about living your life as if it were a novel that you are writing. So, I am thinking of writing an autobiographical novel based on what happens during the month of November.

I'm thinking of sharing it as blog posts as I go. That's 1,667 words a day for 30 days. That is less than my average before starting my current job, but more than my average since.

I have a busy month in November, which is both good and bad. It will give me more to write about, but less time to write.

I also have a concern. The people around me, my family, my friends, my neighbors, and my co-workers, haven't consented to be in a online written version of my novel and I don't want to say things that would upset them. On the other hand, it is an important part of the story.

So, I am writing this, partly to ask permission. Let me know your thoughts about what you feel comfortable with me writing about you, if you want to be excluded from the project, or what is in or out of bounds.

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#NaNoWriMo Liza

This month, I’ve been trying to write a novel for National Novel Writing Month, which I’m currently calling Liza’s Party. It is a twenty first century remake of Pygmalion, where two guys attempt to create the ‘perfect woman’ online via sites like Facebook. The novel is moving along okay, a little behind schedule, but most of the characters are well defined, except Liza.

So, I thought I would ask people who visit my blog their views of what Liza should be like? What would make her the perfect online companion? More importantly, how would she demonstrate these attributes online?

Another question that I want some of my characters to struggle with is, what benefits, if any, might there be in attempting to create such an online companion? The potential downsides are much more obvious.

So, what are your thoughts? How would you imagine Liza?

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The Road to Virginia (Another Personal and #NaNoWriMo Post)

I spent about eight hours on the road driving down to Virginia yesterday. It was a grey day, with brief periods of rains along the way. For the first couple hours, I listened to the news. Then, I switched over to a book on tape. Kim had picked up More Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin and On the Road by Jack Kerouac. I decided to listen to More Tales of the City. It provided an interesting soundtrack for driving across Pennsylvania and down through Virginia.

I’ve been thinking a lot about writing as I work on my own novel for National Novel Writing Month. What could I learn from More Tales of the City? There were moments of vivid descriptions, a good complex plot and very interesting characters. It was the characters that interested me most, especially those characters that have lived long difficult lives and were masters of reading people. I realize these characters were fictitious but they were very interesting.

The ability to really understand, to fully empathize with the people around you seems like one of those super powers concerned people might long for. Yet at the same time, it might be like Midas’ golden touch, and be a real curse, enough to drive a person mad.

It provides a very interesting contrast to Pickles, one of the heroes of my story who is perhaps tragically narcissistic. I’ve been asking friends to read sections of my novel and one friend, a psychotherapist from Australia did not like the character of Pickles. I tried to find out what she didn’t like about him, and it was this narcissistic characteristic that he had. I was relieved. It wasn’t that I failed to describe him very well. It was that, if anything, I captured his narcissism too well.

All of these thoughts mingled together during my drive to Virginia. At dinner my daughter and swapped stories of how our novels were coming along. She is well ahead of me at this point. I was hoping to get some good writing done last night, but was too tired after the drive. Perhaps I can churn out a few more words this morning before the festivities of the day begin.

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