Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"So do you mind if I ask -- what are you writing?"

I get asked that a lot when I write at a bar. Usually I say "I'm working on a play" or "I'm working on a novel" and then describe it in bare bones terms, but occasionally, I'll slide over my notebook so whoever's asking me can see what's in it. If they can read my increasingly illegible handwriting, that is.

Here's a sample of what I wrote in my notebook Monday night:


We dream beside the lies that help us sleep
We kiss the lies that tell us we're the best
We hug the lies our own lies want to keep
We chase exciting lies and ditch the rest

New York City is like a club where the bouncer says "You have to leave your heart at the door, but you can pick it up when you leave."

Molly Wander: character name, play title.

The great story of the 21st century will be the dissolution of the community experience. Music is listened to via earphones, movies are watched on portable laptops, bookstores are closing because people would rather buy online than browse (which is what happened to music stores), and theatre and concerts will become, like opera, expensive and calcified productions aimed at reassuring those who attend that their community is still vital, when in fact it's just a dead body which only moves because it's being zapped now and then by a hunchback flicking an electrical relay. The only communities will be religious, and they will all be insular and protective.

He knows the iron by the way it rusts
And anger is the only love he trusts

How did Vestal Virgins get around? And how many of them were there? (Six, I think.) So if there's a seventh one running around loose in ancient Rome, how obvious would it be?

Poetry: expressing a commonplace in the language of revelation.

"Man is meant to suffer, never more than when he goes out to enjoy himself." -- Monica de la Torre

The world will never run out of ways to let us down.

How do you find out if someone is guilty? Accuse them of something you know they didn't do, and watch how they react.

THREE DEAD SLAVES: So instead of the body of the third dead slave showing up out of the blue, like the first two did, what if Quintus [our hero] decides in true Abbie Hoffman style that there is more truth in confusion than in order? He knows there are people out there who murdered a slave and then buried the body; he knows that there is someone else out there who dug up the dead body and then dumped it where it could be found. And he happens to know where there's a dead body that nobody knows is dead. So what if he takes that dead body, covers it with dirt like the first dead body, dresses it up so that it's wearing the same kind of peplum as the first dead body, and then dumps it in front of the house of someone he suspects of being the killer? Just to see what happens -- just to see who goes nuts about it. And everyone goes nuts about it, from Caesar on down.

I like it. Except that I now have to figure out another way for the third slave to die. And I have to go back and rewrite the last 100 pages.