author’s note

it’s odd writing these characters.

in order to write judy i get to copy our ex-friend crazy judy, but i also imagine myself an ageing hippie with childhood issues, which isn’t hard.

but in order to write rick i have to put my head inside my ex the ax murderer’s, a really unpleasant emotional batterer i lived with in my 20s (soon to be a major unread fictionalized biography).

it’s almost too easy writing alice because i used to be just like her, and it’s painful to remember.  in order to write mom all i have to do is run some scenes with my daughter thru my head and write down my own reactions.

gordon is just that same nelson the dishonest mechanic that i wrote into splat, that lovable scamp.

in writing cindy’s decision to kill mom i have to put together all the traits that belong to cindy in one little clay person-shape, and then run thru the scene.  how would i feel if i were cindy (insane mary tyler moore + people named cindy + the society mom in the nanny diaries + la palin on meth) deciding to end her own suffering by finally saying what she really thinks (at the end of a sharp stick)?  how would i work myself up to it?  what stray thoughts would lead me down unique paths, paths rick or gordon or judy would never stumble upon?  as cindy, what’s my unique contribution to the fuckedupness of this happy family?

whatever it is, i’ve got to go there to write it.  i’m sitting here fantasizing being angry enough to kill someone, finding things i can work myself up about (fictional things – oh yeah, i can get mad about all sorts of political shit, oppression, unfairness.  i can work up a right snit.  now, if i were cindy, how would it look?)

one of the reasons it ends up that i write these unread novels is for my own therapy.  it’s very cathartic to take repressed emotions and fling them onto a big wall and have a good look at them.  you can paint over any part you can’t deal with, and then start adding and emphasizing.  even other people’s repressed emotions.  and since we’re all human, we can all go there, to some extent or other.

i know i’m mostly wrong when i try to get inside someone’s head.  i don’t try to study my relatives in any kind of in depth way, like doing their birth charts.  but a fictional character is another matter.

a friend of mine remarked that he’d like to do a book about his family, but can’t until they’re all dead.  my answer to that is to go ahead and write it now, and put it away until everybody’s dead, like shostakovich did.  or until you’re dead.  either way, you’ll be safe from their reactions.

i’m starting to get consistent with my conventions.  like when to use – or :  like when to use the personal pronoun in internal talk (I).  like when to break with * * *.


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