The Forest Must Burn So It Can Be Reborn

I haven't posted an actual writing post in a while (oh no! the world cried out, so fucking aghast) so here it be. This past spring I started working on a new novel with a lot of moving parts to it and I finished the rough draft this past August after a very productive writing period. The new novel weighed in around 110,00 words initially, which made it my longest novel ever (I'm not a long novel guy-too squirrely), and I ran the rough draft through two additional drafts before sticking it in the metaphorical drawer to cool down.

Why not send it off immediately? It's not like my busy literary agent isn't eagerly awaiting our next crazy money making venture! God, all the money, how we loves it! Money is our precious! Well, alas, I kept getting the sense the book wasn't all it could be. You know, a sort of nagging sensation that I had let down all humanity yet again by not concocting the absolutely most perfect awesome novel of all time, a novel to rule them all and in darkness sell a million copies. The prose was solid, I loved the setting, and the plot...well, it was a plot, anyhow.

Eventually I boiled my unease down to the cocktail party question (also known as the elevator pitch). I.e. I had trouble summoning up what the new book was about when people asked me, much less pack it into a single good sales line (which I've come to learn is pretty much necessary if you actually want to sell your book). This led me to a bunch of other revelations and finally, with a sinking feeling, I realized the book wasn't good enough and probably wouldn't be good enough no matter how many more revisions I made.

God damn, huh? Six months of work down the old drain. Oppegaard Novel #15 was a fucking bust.

Yet not all is lost. After further reflection I realized one part of the book was too fucking good to shelve forever and I started thinking about another way to incorporate it into a new novel written otherwise from scratch. So that's what I'm doing now, writing a whole new novel set in the same town with the same title but with many new characters and a whole other focus. And, this time, if we meet at a party and you ask me about it I can say, with confidence, "It's about a town that's haunted, both metaphorically and literally."

And so I grind on, typing into this merciless Minnesota winter.

FUN SIDE NOTE: I've updated to Word 2013 on my PC and it's glorious. I highly recommend it.
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Happy Halloween! One Last Poem

The Wounded Man

The night was cold. Steam rose in little curls
From his many wounds. He walked along
The side of a highway, praying some old
Trucker would stop for him, see his wounds,
And realize his obligation to a wounded man.

But no trucks came. Nobody came. It was late
And the world was asleep. A soupy fog hovered
Above the ground, close but not quite touching.
The farther he walked, the more the wounded man
Thought about the ocean, his skin clammier, chewier,
More squid-like with each passing mile.

He didn’t blame anybody, though. He’d asked for this.
He’d asked to go to war, to run with the monsters
And feel the moonlight on his face while he wounded
Other men and watched steam rise from their wounds.
What he didn’t like (if he could be said to still have opinions,
In his condition) was that it was his luck to be the last man
Standing, chosen to die alone on some godforsaken road.

But he kept walking. And walking. Because the wounded man
Knew that the next time he laid down the hovering fog would
Grasp him in its hand and carry him off to a darker night.

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Two More Halloween Poems


We found you among the deadwood that collected
In the river’s crook. Beavers stood over your body like
Kiddy crossing guards fattened for slaughter.

They did not want to give you up. Apparently
Your body’s newfound stiffness fooled them
Into thinking you were driftwood, also;
That you belonged to them.

We absorbed the scene awhile, pondering,
Then went back home without you.
Who the hell were we
To argue with beavers?

The Pumpkin Fucker

O, how I like to fuck pumpkins!
How tantalizing it is to carve a hole
And know it waits only for you!
How round and cool they are on the outside
Yet all yielding, stringy delight within!

A man could find true happiness in
A ripening pumpkin patch, ass up
In all that sweet orange melon.

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