Tuesday, August 30

A first novel: Research

A bit more than a month ago I wrote about dividing the novel into chapters in the hope of making the process of revising easier on me, giving me discrete parts to work on and improve rather than nebulous bits with no definite end that only serve to burn me out before I'm through the first third of the work. I still have faith that this approach will work. Unfortunately, I have no proof of this. I have only spent one day since then working on the novel. This is due, in part, to returning to the United States, spending time with family, traveling between three states and moving into a new apartment and new city.

It is also due to an extended period of writer's block. I have struggled to convince myself that this novel is any good, that it's worth another minute of my time and effort. Updike found references to any number of writers who won or deserved to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in Snow. What allusions does my novel contain? What references to the canon does it hold? Does it even point to anything beside itself?

To remedy this, I have decided to do some research to gain a better understanding of the foundations upon which this novel is set before I again begin to write. On the one hand, this means reading again Marshall McLuhan's The Gutenberg Galaxy and the collected essays of Johann Baptist Metz and reading for the first time André Bazin's "The Ontology of the Photographic Image." On the other hand, there are a number of films I need to watch to better enter the mind of the narrator, and they are not directed by the likes of Kurosawa and Godard. You don't find those films on the streets of Nairobi. You find DVD collections starring Jean-Claude van Damme, Steven Seagal and Dolph Lundgren. Those are my narrator's formative films, and those are what I need to watch. I'll let you guess to which half of this research I'm more looking forward.

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