On the last day of 2006, I brought a small black notebook and decided that my New Year’s resolution (among other things) would be to write down every little idea or quote I’d come across with that I think would have the makings of a story. Otherwise I’d just keep getting little odds and ends, consider them for a few days, then promptly forget them. I think I waste a lot of time that way, especially when faced by a deadline.
So I bought the notebook and wrote on it almost every single day, averaging with two ideas or quotes a day. I was so stoked, partly because the notebook was a Moleskine I bought in Hong Kong. (I’ve only recently discovered that the Philippines have begun selling Moleskines as well, but I noticed that while the ones sold in Hong Kong had the Moleskine brand embossed on the back cover, the Philippine ones had the brand only Hm. I thought that even if they had done an Asian version of the Moleskine, it’d be the same all over Asia.) Then I just stopped three weeks later.
Bumhood. I figured I’d make January my “writing” month because when I go back to Sydney I’d have a lot less time to write more than a two or three stories for months on end. January’s come, had tea, and will take its by-your-leave in four days, and I’ve only written one story (and one article I sent to a section in Reader’s Digest open for contributions). Been rather preoccupied (of all things) with playing Pokemon Red on the Game Boy. Bad bad bad. And I still have that novella to work at, the one I need for the scholarship University of Queensland is offering me. (Curiously, I’ve noticed that I’m most motivated to write and finish a story after receiving a rejection from a publication. I’m easily provoked that way.)
In other news, I finished Dave Mitchell’s novel Cloud Atlas a week ago, a story dealing with the “will to power” of the human race. Amazing. The structure is ingenious: sort of goes as 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A, 5A, 6, 5B, 4B, 3B, 2B, 1B. It’s perfect for showing the continuity of humanity, and on the technical side, for showing how seeing (and not merely predicting) the future affects the reader’s understanding of what is happening in the “now” without having to influence the characters’ actions to achieve this effect. A comment, perhaps, on how blindly humans surge into the future, how history is made really only on hindsight. “All revolutions are the sheerest fantasy until they happen; then they become historical inevitabilities.”
Other lighter quotations I particularly liked from the book:
A half-read book is a half-finished love affair.
Sometimes the fluffy bunny of incredulity zooms around the bend so rapidly that the greyhound of language is left, agog, in the starting cage.
I lost my balance when the train pulled away, but a human crumple zone buffeted my fall. We stayed like that, half-fallen. The Diagonal People.