Thursday, January 8, 2015

Two essay ideas [from 11 / 24 / 12].

I haven't written a real, big essay in a long time.  (A few tiny example ones, for students.)  We ask them to write them all the time, but...

Applying to a PhD program--maybe--so I need one.  Don't have very many good ones sitting around.  Have to start from scratch.  And it is funny.  I feel like Dostoyevsky and a genius, sitting there, working on Fiction / my novel.  But scared a tiny bit about this.

Here's my two ideas !

A. Magical Realism thought to have Latin American origins [fine].  And it's fiction, right ?  But, then, the brand of poetry I like best... [I mean, I can like different kinds.  Maybe the most like what I write, most of time]: James Tate, Russell Edson, Mark Strand, Charles Simic, Billy Collins…Richard Garcia, Diana Hartog, Cynthia Rylant…Gerald Stern, Marvin Bell..."

Anyhow: oftentimes stuff like that called Neo-Surrealism, for example; but I don't think that's true.  I think it's more like Magical Realism.  So, the essay could be called "The Case for a Magical Realistic Poetry."  I almost want to say "Magically Delicious"--like Lucky Charms.  (Or: one time I thought up the name: "The Harlequin Romantics."  Thought that was cute--and I don't use the word cute very often.)

B. Just to write something about Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games... -- what I'm into lately.  (If I was accepted, I think I'd want to study where and if YA Fantasy & Magical Realism converge.)

Or just: why Harry Potter so successful, the others less so.  Look at their influences, precursors: Charles Dickens, 1984, romance novels.  (You know: Stephenie Meyer says Romeo & Juliet, Wuthering Heights...but I don't think so similar, in form.  Maybe content, if lucky.)

And even stuff like Frankenstein or Bram Stoker's Dracula--but definitely watered down.  Basically: giving us what a regular Hollywood movie would give us: a little action, romance, comedy--everything.

Then, that it's kind of formulaic. 

That is the real thing I believe in lately -- even the experiment I'm trying to prove by writing a book myself.  That it can be nailed down, duplicated.  (And I usually say YA Fantasy, but... it's pretty big -- maybe more like Dostoyevsky, I wish.)

Even... I used to write poetry; then...took me a while to figure out: no one likes poetry.  So, and I like Harry Potter, stuff like that.  (And before that: Ray Bradbury.  And, for example--w/ Magical Realism: love Haruki Murakami's Hard-boiled Wonderland at the End of the World--and Richard Brautigan's In Watermelon Sugar...)

Anyhow... So I felt like I was slumming a tiny bit, or just going where the money is, when I started writing Fantasy.  Even: made the comment one time: "Writing YA Fantasy is like shooting fish in a barrel."  I'm not making fun of people -- b/c it is an art -- J.K. Rowling a genius -- but just that sometimes: Doesn't matter what the book's about.  Just has to have some monster or bad guy in it.  Something magical, some kids doing something, and they'll buy it, make a movie out of it.  For example: Percy & the Lightning Thieves, Beautiful Creatures...

Then, not just A. that I'm trying to say "No, it's Magical Realism," but: B. Even though I'm writing something like YA Fantasy, I still come at it like I'm writing Dostoyevsky's The Idiot or Brothers Karamazov.  Like: I want it to be a classic--and that well-written.  Down to the smallest detail: obsessing over punctuation, dashes.  (Did I mention I love dashes ?)

And I do think of Dostoyevsky as being the Master, incidentally.  I used to idolize / love him, and hate Tolstoy.  Tried to read Anna Corrine [spelling intentional] and War & Peace.  Couldn't.  Stopped after certain number of pages.  (Just like with Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged: there, could read 2/3.)

Anyhow...Used to think: Dostoyevsky & Tolstoy living in exact same time period, but D. = funny / action-packed, deeply philosophical  and  T = just plain dull.  But reading Anna Karenina now, for a book-club, and I guess I was wrong.  Think a bang-up job of writing, and pretty deep, too.  (Maybe: just so much about marriage / family / relationships -- and that not the first thing I look for, in writing.)

Anyhow, main point: I already said it.  Trying to write something like YA Fantasy in the manner of Dostoyevsky.  And been thinking about it lately: that explains why it's so long.  I am a tiny bit self-conscious about that.  580 pp. -- and it's just the first half.  But--recently read: J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings originally not a trilogy, but one book.  So I'm not crazy.  It's okay to be epic.

And if Peter Jackson can turn The Hobbit into not just two films, but two films, I can have my first book be huge times two.  However, I guarantee: book two will be smaller.  B/c it's a lot of work.

Okay / Sincerely !

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