Backlog Blog #1

What consumes me is a compelling story.

It’s why I read volumes of poorly written fantasy novels, i.e. Robert Jordan, John Marco, Terry Goodkind, Stephen King. (Sorry kids, no George R. R. Martin)

It’s why I can “endure” some “bad” vocals for the sake of good lyrics:

“William Zanzinger killed poor Hattie Carroll
With a cane that he twirled ‘round his diamond ring finger”
—Bob Dylan

“Eating snowflakes with plastic forks,
And a paper plate, of course. You think of everything.
Short love with a long divorce,
And a couple of kids. Of course, they don’t mean anything.”
—Isaac Brock

“There’s a middle aged woman, she’s dragging her feet.
She carries baskets of clothes to a laundromat.
While the Mexican children kick rocks into the streets,
and they laugh in a language I don’t understand. But I love them.”
—Conor Oberst.

It’s why I can’t stand a pretty song with bad lyrics (a.k.a. the lyrics to almost every song I have ever tried to write).

  • Ex. Bad lyrics:
    I had a dream
    You were waiting for me
    On the other side of sleep
    But these blankets and sheets
    They are empty
  • Ex. Good lyrics:
    There’s a cigarette in his left hand, there’s a picture of her
    in the darkest little corner of his mind.
    He rolls down the window, and lets those memories float
    out with the ash over the highway

It’s why I write narrative poetry even if people think that stories don’t belong in poems.

  • Ex. Narrative poem (in progress):“I am in the backyard again, dreaming with my hands / plunged into the dirt. I hold the marvelous collapse / of everything in my fingers. My father mows the lawn”

It’s why I fell in love with Haruki Murakami’s novel, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. I like my stories a little dark, a little unbelievable, a little complex. I like my characters to be complicated and difficult to read. I like it better when they’re not cool, when they’re the underdog, when they have guts and doubts and a little touch of madness.

It’s about stories, storytelling, stories within stories, recollection, memory. Tell me a story, tell me your story. Tell me again. Tell me the best parts. Now tell me the worst parts. Now tell me the truth. Now start from the beginning. Pretend there’s no ending. Pretend you’ll continue tomorrow. The lights are off, but I can’t sleep. I read a story from my own past. I had forgotten almost nothing. I was consumed anyway.

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