This is just an example of one way I write. I wrote most of CLOWN using this method, and it works pretty well for artsy-farsty books written in the 1st person because I'm an artsy fart. However, JACOB is not an artsy fartsy book and it is written in 3rd person almost selectively omniscient and, in fact, it doesn't even HAVE a narrator...
What I mean by that is I didn't create a character, NARRATOR, and then write JACOB in his voice. For a 1st person book you obvioulsy have to create a narrator and write with his voice, but it is probably a good idea to do the same thing for a 3rd person viewpoint. But I didin't. Nonono- I did, in fact I created a series of them, accidentally, as I read others books and copied their style or watched movies etc. See, that's why it is a good idea to create a narrator- like, for consistency.
What I should have done, when I started JACOB, is picked a great book and read it for half an hour every day before I started writing JACOB and used the narrator of that book for my book. But I didn't. And I think that's a big part of the reason JACOB'S a fat fucking mess.
Anyway, because JACOB IS such a fat fucking mess I think I'm going to start using Clown as my narrator. Because I'm blocked- I'm as constipated as Saddam when he was hiding in that hole hearing American voices.
So I'll write the following chapter, which has floated around in my head for like 3 months, in Clown's voice, because I LOVE Clown, and I want to hear him. Okay... here we go... Now, I won't edit this or anything, and if I get stuck halfway I'll just be stuck, or if this thing just completely flops that will be it, it will be a failed experiment. Oooh my fingers feel good the words are flying onto the page I LIKE IT!
When I first got here I could not believe the dust, the squalor, the pain... I used to think Calvinists were assholes, you know? Calvinists think they were destined by God to lead good lives and that's why they were so blessed, and since God is just that meant they deserved to be blessed... But when you come to a place like Somalia you understand it.
How the fuck can you live with yourself when you see how much these people suffer. Not the assholes who cause the suffering- but the KIDS! This place is hell. So now I think Calvinists were just rationalizing, and I can hardly blame them. This place sucks.
Anyway, for the record, I arrived in Somalia weighing about 225 with, I'd guess, like six percent bodyfat. I mean I was ripped and very strong. I was a friggin' stallion ready to race. Three months later I weight 165- no joke, and I had about 0.1 percent bodyfat and I was addicted to Kafiyeh and I was functionally retarded. Well, retarded is going too far. But my brain really didn't work anymore. You see these starving Somalis running around with AKs and shooting them by sticking them around the corner or over their heads and you think they're cowards. But really, they're high and their brains don't have any sugar and they just- they're just STUPID. I know because that was me.
There are two kinds of MIOs. (Marine Intelligence Operatives). The first kind basically gets attached to a battallion and he helps plan attacks- spies out the locals- tries to find out who the enemy is and what they'll do- the kind of stuff that isn't even classified, you know. The second kind does shit like plan feints or use computer viruses to knock out missile detection radar sytem computers.
The third kind does spy shit. Now this third kind is a response to the CIA's decision to stop developing HUMINT resources in the late 80's. The Marines felt they needed HUMINT, especially given the new non-Cold War enemies. But they had little experience with it, so they went to the Israelis. The Israelis said no so the Marines went to a man names Ivan Romansky- yes, it is a made-up name- I'll never tell so don't ask.
Ivan was in his late thirties when I met him. He had no accent, but I don't believe he was an American. I don't believe he was any nationality. He got paid to do a job and he did it, and that was about it. What you need to understand about Ivan is that he was
1) 100% results oriented
2) he was a tech geek
3) he believed, with absolute conviction, that humans were robots.
3) is a BIG deal because it made him absolutely amoral. He thought the brain was a supercomputer- the body was a robot- (I'm really simplifying this because, as he explained many times, he considered the entire body to be a part of the computer- he thought a brain alone could not fuction- that it NEEDED a body to have self-awareness)- and that things like pain and love and hope and etc. were just software. The best software resulted in more replication.
So, take this to an extreme, and you understand that Ivan didn't think any more about shooting a person than a kid playing a video game thinks about shooting a video game construct. He didn't think of HIMSELF as anything more than video game construct, for that matter. But he did think he was better than everybody else in that he felt he was more self-aware of the fact that he WAS a video game construct.
Imagine you wrote a program that contained a character that was programmed to think it was self-aware. Okay, is it? No. It is programmed to think so. That's what Ivan thought of people. Now imagine that construct decides, one day, that it IS a program designed to be self-aware. NOW is it self-aware? Yeah. That's what Ivan thought of himself.
More important, Ivan wanted to learn
a) how to manipulate the code
b) in order to, eventually manipulate his own code
c) so that he could plug into the program that created the environment he lived and
d) manipulate that.
Okay, so Ivan wanted to become God. Or, a Wizard or something like that, at the least. And the Marines in Somalia hired him as a civilian contractor because Jordanians had used him with great results and recommended him.
Now, for all that- the weird thing is that Ivan liked me. I mean he was not immune to emotion, anymore than you are immune to liking your dog. And, in fact, he loved me and admired me the way a hunter would love a great pitbull. I was the equivalent of a champion pit fighting dog, to the kind of man who gets off on fighthing dogs, if you see what I mean. Besides, I made the guy a ton of money. And the more money he had, the more he could spend on finding different ways to manipulate people's codes.
Okay that's the end. Now I've got this character Ivan down. And I didn't before. I don't need to keep the Jordan stuff or the Marine intelligence stuff- but now I've FINALLY got a handle on Ivan, including a name (which, again, I don't need to keep).
The problems are
1. this isn't CLOWN and I can't just throw freewheeling exposition into JACOB
2. can't have the Marines contracting this guy STUPID
3. can't have them lending a Marine to him if they did STUPID
or... maybe I can do 2 and 3... I don't know.
But it makes more sense to make the guy a higher ranking dude in Marine intelligence, a Colonel or something, who has been like this all along but has hidden it until recently. Why isn't he hiding it, how does Jacob know about it? (Jacob needs to know about it for the reader to know because JACOB is written in 3rd person limited omniscience) Because Ivan has been getting high on his own supply, a little bit??? Hmm...
4. how do introduce this? another flashback? JACOB has way too many already. Invade Jacob's dream- have Jacob explain it to Jenny?
Now THAT has some possibilities. What if Jacob is pissed because Ivan messed with his head? But then Ivan is the one that gets rid of his pain later, too... That could be cool, maybe. It is still just another flashback though.
I could do it part dream and part Jenny. Shit, THAT is probably the way to do it... Have Jacob just mention it to Jenny on the quad overlooking the protest, then have him dream about it after he fucks what's her name... This scene.
"This is a worm," Ivan said. "Dimethyltryptamine, aka DMT aka N,N-dimethyltryptamine."
"Crackers have been using this in South America for centuries. Good stuff."
"You want me to take it."
Jacob ate the pill.
"We've got a couple of minutes before it kicks in."
"What's it like?"
"Well, it isn't like kefiyah, or MDMA, or anything you've tried so far. This is soul-changing stuff. When you come out of it, odds are you'll think you had a mystical experience. You'll think you opened a portal into a different dimension and had a conversation with an intelligence that is the equivalent, brain-wattage wise, of you to an ant. But look, it WON'T BE REAL. When you first come back you'll think it was real, and you'll be angry with me for saying it isn't, but remember that I told you what you'll experience before you experienced it, okay?"
"A mystical experience?"
"Yeah. You'll think- the trademark of a mystical experience is NOT that you think you're seeing God, okay, it is that it seems MORE real than reality. I've done DMT quite a few times and when you're on it reality is more real. And real life, which this IS, don't be fooled, this IS real life, this IS an external reality, okay? But when you come off the DMT you will feel like this is a dream because the intensity of the DMT experience is so much more palpable than reality."
"What the fuck does this have to do with catching druglords, sir?"
"This is the stuff, Jacob. I pop the guy with DMT and when he comes off it- when he's in that window where he can pay attention to me but still remembers the DMT experience, I represent myself to him as a prophet and he'll tell me everything. Everything. Because the real world is no longer real to him, and because I'm the door to the real world. You understand? I use the MDMA, or acid, when I can't get this. MDMA is a firefly to DMT's lightning. The only thing is it is so strong it might fuck you up for life. I mean people have taken this and become mystics."
"Why do I have to take it?"
"Because I need to know the real reason you're here. I'm going to question you when you come off it. I'm going to make sure you're not here to entrap me. I gave you the MDMA because I wanted us to bond, and you seem okay. I feel like I can trust you. They used to give that to married couples in counseling. We got friendly quick right. But I've cracked my own code quite a bit lately, so I need to be more careful. " But Jacob wasn't listening anymore. His eyes were wide, his pupils were dialated.
"Oh my God," Jacob said.
Okay, I like that. I think that actually makes the cut. And I can write the part where Jake explains what a monster Ivan was later. It can almost be an aside. It will fill out the part where Jake says "You know what I've done for my country?" well. Speaking of that, that's just goofily written anyway. I should just replace that with Jake telling Jenny the Marines gave him to a psycho...
Scene now??? I don't think so... Couple hours of writing a day is enough. Well, is it though? Maybe I should- no... I'm fatigued, I know this feeling. Done for the day. Things will move along quickly enough if I keep up today's pace.