This isn’t a post about New Year’s Resolutions, but the start of a new project, as today marks the first of 365 daily essays in 2013. For comparison, I posted 10 blog posts in all of 2012, which means I will write more in 2013 if I keep this up past January 11.
So… why 365 essays?!
There’s a few reasons, but the main thing that led to this was reading about Alice Sebold, the author of The Lovely Bones, who said in an interview that she wrote Lucky, a memoir of her rape, to purge her personal story once she knew the character in Lovely Bones was also going to be raped:
“As weird as this sounds, I think that after writing the first chapter of Lovely Bones, in which Susie is raped and killed, there was some urging on Susie’s part that I get my own business out of the way before writing further into her story,” Sebold said in an interview with Powells. “When I say ‘on Susie’s part’ I mean: the demands of her wanting to tell her story and using me to do so meant that I had to unload my story someplace else. It wasn’t going to fit into the book I wanted to write for her.”
This resonated with me because, at the time that I read her interview, I was in another round of edits on my novel, and I noticed that a lot of what I was doing was taking out things I believed and said about certain topics, after realizing that the characters saying them wouldn’t necessarily believe or say these things.
Since I intend to write a lot of broad-themed novels, I realized this could be a problem, since I would have to write a mountain of essays to purge things. But then, I thought, OK, but why not do that anyway?!
Starting this month, I am going in for the final edits on the novel and, since my intention is to self-publish it on Amazon, I can say with some degree of certainty it will be published this year. The first thing I will do to approach this final edit is to read through the last version of the novel, which I haven’t touched in quite a while. As I read it, I will jot down things that hit home personally, and then before I go back to edit that piece, there will be an essay here on that topic, so that when I am doing the edit, I can focus on the needs of the work, and the motivation of the characters, and know that my personal story has already been told. So, I will have personal scores that need to be settled in the novel.
It won’t (or shouldn’t) be readily apparent what stories are things I am telling randomly, which things are related to the book, or anything like that. It should be a separate experience for people on this site. I am also not connecting the dots to enable future readers of the novel to look back and see what essay was prompted by which part of the novel, as I want the novel to be a standalone experience.
I’m also not promising these essays will be very polished. In fact, I am thinking of them as what is affectionately referred to as a “vomit draft,” where the goal is to just get everything out onto the page. Some of these will be stories I’ve told over the years and will be pretty honed and crafted, and some will be rough and lacking shape. But all will be stories from my life.
A note on that: My memory is lousy. I’ve put little effort into remembering my past, so to call this a memoir seems a bit off. If I write about an event, and you were one of the people at that event with me, you may wonder how I’ve managed to get things so far adrift from reality. I can only defend this by saying that is most likely the bits and pieces I do remember and how my mind has cobbled them together in service of telling a story.
The other thing you need to know is that there is an end game to this project. A lot of what I write will be repackaged as Sedarisesque essays at some point in the future. But that might be combining the May 7 essay with the February 21 essay, and reworking the connective tissue until they feel like they were always meant to be one story. So, these web posts are the seed of a future project, as well.
Along these lines, I am writing from a specific perspective in these that I find humorous, which is to say that there will be a self-deprecating vibe to a lot of it. From my time on Facebook, I have come to realize that not everyone “gets” or “enjoys” that tone, and it can often yield replies with some balm like “I think you’re being too hard on yourself” or “It’s probably not as bad as you think it was,” etc.
I’m certain that may be true, but a lot of what I write is meant to be humorous, and that humor will probably be more focused and pronounced when the reworked essays are published, but possibly a bit more raw and unworked in these drafts. Obviously, I can’t stop people from replying however they see fit, but it is fair to say that I will not be spending a lot of time replying or engaging in that line of discussion. But, you know, feel free to comment as much as you want. If you comment asking why I never reply to such things, though, I will likely send you back to this essay.
Over time, I may segregate out the weekdays and focus certain days on certain topics, so Monday may be “gay” day, Tuesday is “vegan” or whatever. That will happen over time, though, not out of the gate. I’m also debating doing an audio podcast of the essays, as well. But, again, not on day one. If that is something that interests you, let me know, and that may move it up in the to-do list.
I’m still going back and forth on names. When it makes sense (or I have permission), I will use real names. When it doesn’t, I will change them. I won’t be indicating which are real names and which are made up, though, since that isn’t really the most relevant aspect of this project.
In the sense of putting myself under the gun a bit, here is how I see my publishing activities for 2013:
- 365 essays
- One novel
- Two Kindle Singles (both related to past employment)
- One secret project (to be revealed, or not, at a later date)
I intentionally moved to New York City to step up my game, start taking this pursuit seriously, and make it happen.
This is step one of me trying to do that.