423. "Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?"
- Spoken Word Open Mic, Biddle's Escape, Pittsburgh, us@
- Wednesday, January 10, 2018, 7:20PM
- I've been collecting alcohol bottles & cans that appeal to me for one reason or another but without any purpose in mind until I finally realized that they'd provide a relevant visual element to a reading of my text that was written in reponse to the Goodreads question "Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?". Throughout the reading, I placed these cans & bottles in front of me on the table, where I had the text, to create an atmosphere of comedic intoxication, even though I wasn't actually drinking alcohol. The 1st one I placed on the table was an empty bottle of "Walt Wit" beer that has a picture of poet Walt Whitman on the label.
still from the movie of the reading
Goodreads asked tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE:
Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?
tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE Well, this isn't exactly about my most recent book ("tENTATIVELY, aN iNTERVIEW" in collaboration with Alan Davies) but it's the closest I can get at the moment. That age-old question of "Where did you get the idea"? can be answered by almost all creative people who're willing to be honest with a simple answer: from a series of books called "Ideas for _____s" - in this case "Ideas for Writers". I have one called "Ideas for Filmmakers" & one called "Ideas for Musicians" too. They're all pretty much the same with a few minor variations. I should clarify: they're not exactly books, they're things that display on my iTab, they're kindof expensive but the subscription's worth it because it keeps me ahead of the pack, so to speak, ahead of the wolves at my door. Unfortunately, I can't really afford to pay for a good iTab at the same time so I can't always read the microprint.
Anyway, just to give an example. I'm sitting here, alone, as usual, my inflatable amanuensis doll that answered to the name of Samuel Beckett deflated a while back & since then I haven't had any friends at all. SO, I'm trying to think: what can I write? I just look at the iTab "Ideas for Writers" & I see that zombies are in right now so I think "COOL, that's something different that I wouldn't have thought of on my own!" so I decide to make it a zombie story.
Well, lest you think that I'm lazy and that I'd just sit back on my haunches & knock back a six-pack after such an inspired moment, I THEN consult the iTab again & see that if I really want to corner a niche market I should make it targeted to an audience-in-search-of-'their'-writers so I decide to make it a queer youth novel, at least a little - not too much because I want to keep it outside of the rating system so I don't have any problems there.
Now I'm on a roll! A few more checks in the iTab & I've got the opening scene: two girls in a bedroom messing around, nothing too x-rated, just some exploratory kissing, maybe a little petting, again, not too much. The annoying little brother has been pounding his pud in the next room, he can hear everything so he knows what's going on. Now I don't explicitly say that's what he's been doing, it's implied, right? "Ideas for Writers" teaches you how to be subtle. SO, he bursts into his sister's room, his pajama fly is open, he's got the door-knocker in his hand, the sister & her friend see that he's a zombie so she blows his head off with a handy gun (every American home should have at least one in every room).
This is where I start to get really original: usually zombies get killed when their head gets blown off, right? In this case the brother keeps right on coming, he can't see anymore but it's ok, it's a small room, the bed's on the right, the school-desk's on the left & the window's straight ahead so it doesn't matter if he can't see anymore. I admit, I started to get lost here, I mean his door-knocker wants to "ring that bell-el-el-el-el-el-el" right but I can't let that happen, I've got to curb that heat-seeking missile.
Eureka! A VAMPIRE comes in the window at that very moment (I'm not making this shit up, it's all in the "Ideas for Writers" iTab) & starts sucking on the boy's neck-stump. It's like winning the lottery for the vampire. In no time at all, the boy's body is drained 'til he's little more than one of those party-whistles where you blow it & a tongue of rolled paper shoots out & then retracts again - you know what I mean? BUT HE'S STILL ALIVE! (Every time I start a sentence with "But" or use an ampersand or whatever a red line appears under it, the "Ideas for Writers" spellcheck doesn't like it at all but I can't help myself I'm so excited!) Nothing can kill this kid.
The girls have been watching all this, admittedly fascinated & a bit turned on, but, then, the vampire turns to look at them & she's got a weird look in her eye & they know what that means so they each take a nail-studded baseball bat that's there in case they run out of ammo & they each take a swing but the vampire's too smart for that & jumps out the window just in time & the bat hits the brother in what's left of his stomach instead &, & here's the shocker, his head pops out of his neck, he was only fooling, he's ok, & everybody hugs each other & we're back to being family-friendly.
I REALLY don't know where to go from here, I'm even more stumped than the brother (get it?!) so I consult the well-spring & find that making it a dream justifies anything so that gets me off the ratings hook a little. The sister wakes up, it turns out that she's fallen asleep in class, she's in school & a nun has awoken her by whapping a ruler across her knuckles. I got that from the iTab too - nice touch, eh?! See why the subscription's worth it?!
There's something weird about the nun. The reader doesn't know this yet, I just drop some hints, but the nun's actually a guy in drag who's in school as an undercover cop trying to catch some grafittists who've been carving a post-horn symbol in the ceilings & the cop can't even figure out how they get up there, he's just got to know. But that's not the only weird thing, the girl's starting to figure out that he's actually a guy because there's this protuberance at about three feet in the front of the nun's habit.
In other words, all is not as it seems - you don't want to make it too obvious for the reader. When the girl gets woken up, she knocks her iTool on the ground & when she leans over to pick it up in her Catholic School mini-skirt uniform her thong strap breaks & her woo-haa is exposed to the 'nun' who just happens to be bending over at the same time to help her pick up the thingie &, wouldn't you know it?, that nylon-wrapped protuberance slips right into the Garden of Eden!!
At this point, I'm a bit tipsy & I look at my "Ideas for Writers" & see that I've accidentally opened the ADULT version but there's no turning back now because I've lost track of where I am anyway. Well, the girl, the sister, right?, not the 'nun' sister, but the zombie-boy-in-the-dream's sister gets pretty excited by all this & that's when, to quote Dr. John Money, she gets derailed from her love-track. She's a goner. Nothing is EVER going to turn her on like this again, she's going to spend the rest of her life trying to reinstantiate but there's no hope for her, this was a one-of-a-kind experience. OR SO IT SEEMS!!
Fortunately for her, the undercover cop is actually her own age (within a year or two) so the story's in the clear there, & the reason why this particular cop specializes in nun-drag is NOT because he's one of the Sisters of Perpetual Motion, or whatever they're called, but because he has a physical abnormality that makes his crotch two feet above the ground & his heart at about three feet while his head is still at about the normal height.
Here's where the "Ideas for Writers" really gave me a kick: The protuberance, which everyone has been thinking is the member of the family who hangs onto the family jewels is ACTUALLY a stake that was driven through his unusual person's heart! The thing is: HE CAN'T TAKE THE STAKE OUT HIMSELF, that's against the rules, & he's too embarrassed to ask for help. WELLLLLL (another red underline), the stake gets caught in the honey pot & when the girl stands up it pops out of his chest & the wound immediately heals. BOY, is he grateful!
I barely need to tell you what happens after that, the story just sortof writes itself. The boy is actually some sort of super-powered shape-shifter who was elongating when the stake was driven in by a bad guy who was trying, of course, to kill him. The result was that he didn't get killed but he got stuck in this shape, right? & he's been an undercover cop in nun drag ever since. That's kinda harsh for such a young guy - even if he is precocious. That's made him more sensitive.
Once the stake's out, he remembers that HE's the grafittist & that his elongo powers have enabled him to carve into the ceiling with his titanium-hard fingernails. Everything fits together, he & the girl fall in love, his special powers make reinstantiation possible after all & they live happily ever after. That's just the 1st chapter, I've been misleading the reader, the real hero of the story is the writer but I'm too drunk now to read the "Ideas for Writers" anymore so I have to stop for now. Does that answer your question?!
- a movie of this is on my onesownthoughts YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/beFRcoyT_SY
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