Aaron Cael

Tag: writing

Character scavenging


The guy across from me on the train is middle-aged, white, and wearing a cream colored Members Only jacket. A pristine Vancouver 2010 USA Olympic Rowing baseball cap and big black work boots scuffed to dark green. He’s also intently fondling a big pile of plastic gold necklaces. The cheap beaded kind like you’d get at Mardi Gras for dramatic acts of public service.
The problem is, I can’t use him.
Writing fiction backs you into something of a corner when it comes to characters and events. You have to select images that establish the rules of the world you describe, staying within a certain boundary of plausibility, yes, but more importantly staying on message. So while the New York Metro area provides a wide variety of oddballs, desperadoes, schizophrenics, and weirdos of every stripe, that variety must be curated.
It becomes a matching game. What bizarre stranger best matches the mood of the part right before the breakup? If I’m setting up the feeling of desperation, who should I put in the background: the elderly black man in the boiler suit with the gold spray-painted briefcase dancing to his walkman or the white guy with gray Bozo hair who backstrokes across the floor, eyes squinted shut, in various public transportation hubs?
But gold beads… naw I can’t use it. Would be too cheap a metaphor for fruitless grubbing for wealth, too close to clutching a rosary, too random for anything else. The Members Only jacket and the boots combo, though. I might use that next time I’ve got a hot date.

Postcards 2012

post_islandspoint post_lookatthat post_warholWhat do I do to relax? I make postcards. Not always collage. I find it the perfect format for trying something new in a format that is disposable, easily sent or kept. A pack of 4×6 index cards keeps me occupied for awhile.

Ideal for those who find a sketchbook too much of a commitment.

The Proper Role of Power Tools in Publishing


Not to hang too much of my ass out in public but last night I printed out they first chunk of my novel that anyone is going to actually see. While I’m about as plastic fantastic digital future as the next man–writing this with a gestural keyboard on my tablet as I am–there’s still something of as glow to actual print. a realness, a threshold crossed once its off my screen and on the surface of another object.

I wonder if I’d have the same experience flipping through it on a Kindle. (that’ll come later… after a few nights of headaches sorting through the documentation for Kindle formatting and epub3 and the like, I’m just printing these first rounds out and including stamped envelopes to mail them back with notes)
Proper saddle stitching will have you wait for proper materials though. I had more whisky in the house than thread or common sense so I used the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language as a workbench and power drilled holes down the spine, stitching it up with salvaged red waxed twine.


Bushman Lives. You Sit.

I was motivated to check just now and it has been 7 months since I last bothered to get anything up on Title of Magazine. It’s a site that has shrunk to a popular Twitter feed, now run by my dear friend Adam Orbit. For a long time, Title was my excuse to sit in the manner described by my lifelong favorite author Daniel Pinkwater in the (radio?) essay “And Zen I Wrote”. To surmount the problem of not being able to get started writing, Pinkwater reduced the assignment to simply sitting at a desk for an hour. Just sitting was enough. An accomplishment. There would, of course, be pencil and paper nearby and he would invariably get bored enough to start fooling around with them and inadvertently some writing would get done. After awhile, this one hour assignment would become two hours and on until eventually his body had learned the chief skill of any writer: sitting still long enough to bilge out the words to the page.

I’d love to offer a quote but my bookshelf lacks a copy of Fishwhistle at the moment. (Wasn’t aware until now that there’s a Fishwhistle restaurant down in Maryland)

Anyway, Title was my head-clearing/sit down for a bit and get started exercise for the better part of two years until it started becoming its own sort of work. A weird little beast. Since then, I’ve been retooling the whole song and dance around the act of sitting down and writing–different tools, routines, motivations, little games. Which loops back to Pinkwater again…

He’s serializing another novel, Bushman Lives! It’s a nice little motivating brain snack to sit down and read a chapter then get down to work. Doesn’t always go like that, what with the bottomless well of distraction that is sitting down to a computer but it’s something.


Not a whole lot of actual goddamn writing got done this weekend. More like digging around in what I had, getting reacquainted with some dirty corners of the narrative. Still, it’s work that needed to be done.

Googled up a solution to the Automator issue. Roughly: http://macs.about.com/od/usingyourmac/ss/Automate-Opening-Multiple-Applications-And-Folders_2.htm  Now to add that to the netbook so I can jump right into it.

Speaking of the Netbook, I’ve been taking it to work with me for the long commutes, especially the ferry. Fits about the same as a hardcover book so why not. Well, aside from needing to get through two hardcovers I’m trying to read right now. 1491 and American Gods.

Covered my desktop with paper so as to better write notes, inventories and to-dos. Looks the classier side of schizophrenic.

An idea that sprung upon me today: exploit the monkey-see/monkey-do wiring in the brain (mirroring neurons) by watching videos of behavior I want to emulate. Like sitting down at a desk and grinding it out. Rasterbated up a door sized image of Daniel Pinkwater at his typewriter. Not action packed enough, I think. Only found an active shot of Bukowski at his typewriter but a lifesize Bukowski in your room is a bit rough to look at every day, regardless of my admiration for his poems. Might be a cool idea for a project: taking portraits or videos of writers I admire at work, or even pretending to be.

Next up: assignments. Some sort of system for breaking down the tasks of filling out the first third of the novel and fleshing out some pieces that are sorta just assumed and left hanging. The Real Work of It.

Also: need more red wine. For motivation.

Also: get the website going. Use automation process for creating instant header images for posts from randoms craps I’ve got lying around. Crop, expand, filter, B&W then upload and open WordPress. Make it effortless and you might actually do it.