Writing is dreaming with open eyes. After you get the initial pages down, you're reworking the details over and over in a trance until you get them right.
I'm trying to create a sense of shared dreaming, a dream that can be visited at will, again and again. Overall, I'm more interested in what people are thinking and sensing than what they're actually saying, which is an important disconnect....
After reading the excerpt below, my friend Sarah commented on its physicality: the gestures carry more weight than the dialogue. As a trained actress , she can't help but read for the 'stage directions' in a text, and enjoyed being able to visualize the scene. Although this can result in a cool hallucinatory feel sometimes, I need to work on my dialogue. Really good dialogue is so intensely satisfying- and so hard to write.
Do you ever go out and listen to strangers talking? I've never done it with intention, just by accident. I loved this recent profile about the actor Bryan Cranston. He likes to go out in disguise and study passerby, just to make sure he captures mannerisms and motivations which are outside his natural habits. "I used to just watch people at malls, to get out of that rut where there's too much of you seeping into your roles, where your character is 'Me, but with a hat!'"
This weekend one of Andrew’s buddies was driving us somewhere (carrying us, as they say in southmouth) and out of nowhere D launches into this crazy stream of consciousness thing about how he hates running because it makes him hate civilization- “really? this is what it’s all come to, guys? Broken signs and car exhaust and this dirty bridge?”
It was awesomely funny, all the more so because it came out of nowhere, and when he was done ranting, he acted like nothing had happened. I’m not doing it justice, but I did stick a variation into a party in my story.
I’m always culling names, too. I’ll write down street names, billboards, movies, everything. Graveyards are my favorite place for names, though. There are beautiful old graveyards everywhere in downtown Charleston, many with headstones dating to the 1700s. And sometimes there will be other visitors, which always makes it feel to me like a Fellini film, for some reason; the silence and slow movement, dramatic shadows.
Oliver’s last name, Roamery, is one Sarah gave me; she heard it in an old movie.
Jupiter Snowe came in two parts; Jupiter “Jupe” came during a conversation at Redux about great pet names (wouldn’t that be a fun bit of interactive art? A list of names. Who doesn’t like tossing out cool names?) Snowe came when I decided I needed at least a little bit of symbolism.
Jupiter’s a sweet girl, and in my head she looks like Jessica Hamby from True Blood.
Here’s some of my favorite names:
Last names: Ravenel, Crumbly, Olivegold, Grimball, Roamery, Bllitchridge, Adoro. Grimke, Finucan, Northcutt, Two Notch Road, Mr. Badfoot, Mr. Bitters, Mrs. Wormpie, Mr. Weirdbelly, Birlan, Neele.
Ransom Davis. Mary Juliet West. “Smoke.” Ava Mary. Cheshire Moon.
First names: Nell. “Bracky”. Basilica. Temple. Tyler. ( Esp. for a girl. I love boy’s names on girls.)
I named a guy Catfish Blitchridge in Astra, and Tyler, Roamery & Ravenel are in Ridiculous Kinky- Tyler Roamery, Oliver Roamery, and Haydon Ravenel.
P.Z. West's first novel, EVENING’S LAND, is a Library Journal Self-e Selection, winner of the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation Award and recipient of the Carol Marie Smith Memorial Scholarship for the NOEPE Center of Literary Arts.
Pauline West's books on Goodreads
Candlemoth: A Holy City Romance
ratings: 27 (avg rating 4.04)
ratings: 24 (avg rating 3.46)
Candlemoth Volume 2: How To Spend It
ratings: 10 (avg rating 4.40)
Candlemoth Book 3: A Twist of Fate
ratings: 6 (avg rating 4.17)
Stalker: A Gothic Thriller
ratings: 4 (avg rating 4.25)