(This page last modified 9 October 1996.)

Wanderjahr: Week 5

Locations: Austin, TX; Albuquerque, NM
Dates: 9/15/96 - 9/21/96

The week began in Austin, where Rob and I spent Saturday through Monday with Jamie and a couple of Rob and Jamie's friends from Tahoe, mostly playing RPGs. Not the best game ever, but most of it went fairly well.

On return to Albuquerque, picked up my photos (disappointing results -- I clearly don't know how to take good outdoor portraits without either washing out the subjects or putting them in deep shadow), watched movies, ran errands. On Wednesday, I took Rob to the airport; he flew off to Japan for a ten-day business trip.

Observation about Albuquerque: I saw three rainbow-flag bumper stickers in the first two days I was here, though I'd seen a total of zero in the entire LA area.

I went to the ABQ AAA office -- I'd been meaning to go by AAA and get maps ever since I arrived in LA, but hadn't done so -- and picked up about a dozen maps, covering pretty much everywhere I intend to be in the next few months. Finished up a SWAPA 'zine and emailed it in (with an assist from Jay). Noticed I'd driven about 2500 miles since leaving home. Ran errands, tried to get clip-on sunglasses, spent some time in Rob's Magic & Juggling Shop talking to Rob Weinstein about juggling, and did miscellaneous cleaning at Rob(Smith)'s place.

Now, those of you who've been following this adventure from the start may recall that the point of taking time off work was to spend some time writing fiction. You may also have noticed that I've barely mentioned writing so far. The unfortunate truth is that, except for a little work on the outline for the aforementioned screenplay, I'd written no fiction thus far on the trip, after a month on the road. On Friday the 20th, having dealt with email, SWAPA, letters, my journal, gaming writeups, and anything else non-fictional I could think of to avoid writing fiction, I finally settled down to work. I fleshed out the screenplay outline considerably and typed up a scene I'd written longhand on the plane back from Austin. It felt good to finally do some writing, but it wasn't really enough.

So I proceeded to watch several more movies and some TV. Also took a walk outside. There's little that makes me happier than warm sunlight on my skin. Drug-like euphoria.

And finally on Saturday evening I worked on a story. I have about half a dozen stories that are very close to completion, that just need a solid editing pass to be worth sending out; I picked one of them and began incorporating comments from friends, making details more vivid and reworking confusing time sequences. One of the comments was that I really ought to cut the first two scenes and start on p. 3, which bothered me because I hear this a lot about my stories. It's frustrating; I like my openings. But then, as a reader I like to have some time to ease into a story; I'd rather not have to be paying full attention to the opening paragraph or so. Whereas everyone else seems to prefer a slam-bang start. I've lost count of the number of times I've been told "Your story really starts here on page three." I suppose I ought to just throw out the first two pages of every story... But usually when people say that it's because when I started the story I had no idea where I was going. I can't really write a beginning until I've written an ending, by which time the beginning is so fixed in place that I have a hard time trashing it and starting over. Sigh.

The next week, fortunately, was more productive in terms of fiction.


Movies, Books, etc.

Strange Days
Best movie I've seen this year, best cyberpunk movie there is. Unfortunately also rather graphically violent and very intense; not for everyone.
Princess Caraboo
Charming. I laughed and cried; it has problems, but well worth seeing anyway.
Light Sleeper
Fascinating writing, but overall didn't quite work for me. The interactions between DaFoe, Sarandon, and their partner is well done, though.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Fun, fluffy; not brilliant, but not bad. Unfortunately boring songs even though they're by Sondheim.
Bitter Moon
Mostly dreadful, but with some very poetic bits of writing here and there.
Torch Song Trilogy
Disjointed beginning, but gets better. Matthew Broderick kisses a man on-screen!
Lone Star
Rich, compelling Sayles movie; not, alas, as surprising as it wants to be, but quite good.
Remains of the Day
I wanted to take Hopkins by the lapels and shake some sense into him. Good performances, but irritating story/character.

Jed Hartman <logos@kith.org>