Friday, August 25, 2006

The sleeping insomniac, mass murder, and methamphetamines

I've decided to tell myself that the reason I'm so tired these days because I'm spending so much time living inside the head of an insomniac who, at last count, hadn't slept in five and a half days.

I, on the other hand, have been sleeping every night, and waking up freaking exhausted in spite of it.

The biggest problem with first-person narratives, particularly whe you're writing about broken or self-destructive or exhausted characters, is that you tend to dwell inside of their heads, vicariously experiencing what they're experiencing. I really should learn my lesson and get back to writing third-person narratives some day.

I took a break from the book last night, partly beacuse I figured I deserved it, and partly because I'm juggling three plot threads, and slowly figuring out how to work them into the book.

The school violence sub-plot just seems to want to go on and on, and it's starting to look like it'll stretch into three chapters instead of just two, and maybe four if I want to spend any time with the aftermath. Which should be fine. I think I even sort of connect the personalities of the shooters with the personalities of our "cult leader" in their attempts at seizing a sort-of power because they feel powerless in their own lives. Still, this ever expanding sub-plot is throwing me for a bit of a loop, as it's becoming much bigger than I had anticipated.

The second sub-plot, recently stumbled upon thanks to a conversation with a friend, involves methamphetamines and their use by this cult of people trying to stay awake. I know nothing at all about this drug, and am definitely going to have to do some research I'm going to discuss it, if even in a brief way. But it was the mention that was made to me that some people on meth go for four or five days without sleep that made the use of the drug in the book seem almost too perfect. Sometimes coffee and red bull isn't enough.

What's bugging me a bit about the meth side-plot is that I'm not entirely sure how to weave it into the rest of the narrative, except as a trivial side-bit regarding the lengths to which these people are willing to go to in order to stay awake, and, in theor, receive enlightment. Which, come to think of it, is maybe all it needs to be. Something that can spark the narrator's own desire to reacquaint himself with the divine after seeing how desperate these people are for *any* sort of meaning.

Or maybe something that can push him further away from it.

More thought required here.

The third current problem is the realization that, for the most part, nothing of any interest happens in this current chapter, barring the flash-black, school-shooting material. But driving into work today, I happened upon a way to spin the chapter that makes it's nothingness work -- the narrator's feeling that this is his life. This is what his life is like -- boring, meaningless, insignificant. Day in, day out, half-asleep, half conscious, half alive.

If I can pound out 2,000 words tonight, I should be able to cross the 20,000 word threshold, putting at almost half of a NaNo novel. Looking back, I can barely tell where these 20,000 words have come from. If the next 20,000 come this easy, this book should be cake.

Except for the whole being exhausted all the time thing.

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