(Top 101) #58. Goodnight Moon – Shivaree

Schmuck or not, I’m back here Starbucking and writing my time away. This time, I got myself an Americano–it was the cheapest thing on the menu–and well, it’s coffee. Very dark and bitter. Why is it called an Americano? Is it a commentary on the decay of the American dream? Who knows… I know I could just look it up on Wikipedia, but hey, time is ticking.

I’m currently at Page 117 of my novel-to-oh-please-be. I’ve been feeling stifled writing while cooped up in my place all the time, so I’ve been trying to branch out a bit more. Namely, I’ve started writing while riding the subway. And actually, it’s been pretty productive. Later this week, I plan to write away while riding the Green Line (I know all the subway lines by color not by their numbers) while goes around and around on an endless loop.

On Sunday, I actually had what I’ve been writing be read and evaluated for the first time. It was scaaaary, I tell you. It was my second time attending the Seoul Writers Workshop, which is basically a group of English speakers who gather every two weeks to discuss each other’s work. For Sunday, I had submitted my prologue and the beginning part of my first chapter, about nine pages in all.

And the verdict? Was I hailed as the next literary phenomenon, the next heir to Shakespeare’s throne? Or was I ripped apart and banned from every creative writing endeavor for the rest of my life? Well, the answer: Neither, but overall, gently encouraging. Overall, it’s quite an intelligent (and in a couple of cases, truly talented, in my opinion) group, and it was very interesting to hear what they had to say. And it felt really exhilirating and legitimizingto have a group of people going back and forth about characters I created and lines that I wrote. It really brought home the point that a book is just a bunch of words on pages that don’t come alive until they’re taken in and read by a human mind. Overall, a few comments fell into the “yeah, but what the hell do you know?” category, but many were very helpful and got me looking at things I wrote in a new light. So all in all, it was a nice wind of encouragement and a very good motivator. One member made the point–talking about another writer’s story–that it needed more “personal touches that made it feel real,” and that really struck home. Novelists make things up, but the made-up things have to have truths inside them; otherwise, they’re going to ring hollow. You’ve got to write lies that tell a truth. And therein lies my mission.

Okay, now for our countdown. Here’s Shivaree with “Goodnight Moon,” a fabulously creepy tune that Tarantino used in the Kill Bill Soundtrack. I actually worked in a now-defunct video store in Redondo Beach for several years while attending college, and one of my customers used to go to the video store in nearby Torrance that Tarantino used to work at. According to our mutual customer, Tarantino used to give all kinds of great, offbeat recommendations for rentals. I don’t doubt it; Tarantino’s got great taste (I ended up discovering the genius that is Wong Kar-Wei thanks to Quentin, whose favorite movie is Wong’s Chungking Express), and that taste clearly runs through music as well.

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