Wednesday, November 9, 2011

THE VAGRANT WRITER (GUEST POST)

This is a guest post by Caleb J Ross (also known as Caleb Ross, to people who hate Js) as part of his "Stranger Will Tour for Strange" blog tour. He will be guest-posting beginning with the release of his novel Stranger Will in March 2011 to the release of his second novel, "I Didn’t Mean to Be Kevin" and novella, "As a Machine and Parts," in November 2011.


If you have connections to a lit blog of any type, professional journal or personal site, please contact him. To be a groupie and follow this tour, subscribe to the Caleb J Ross blog RSS feed. Follow him on Twitter: @calebjross.com. Friend him on Facebook: Facebook.com/rosscaleb

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Am I the only one who sees construction sites and bridge embankments not as evidenc
e of urban sprawl but as potential office space? I often romanticize writing not just in terms of capital-A Art, but in terms of environment, too. Writing, to me, means dank bars, an unfinished basement corner, a notebook on a park bench, and every time I pass them, construction sites and bridge embankments. They aren’t just for homeless people.

I have this idea for a novella series. Each book would be written in a different setting. I’d spend a week on a Florida beach and crank out a draft of a novella, possibly set at that beach, possibly only subconsciously influenced by the beach. The title of the novella would contain a reference to the setting. Maybe simply The Ocean. Then, I’d spend a week in fleabag motels, doing the same. Then a week at a hostel in Chicago. Then a week under a highway bridge. A week at the same stool in the same bar. Literary tourism, but on a much more focused scale.

Who’s done this? Ernest Hemingway in The Sun Also Rises (Madrid and Pamplona, Spain). John Kennedy Toole in A Confederacy of Dunces (New Orleans, Louisiana). But these examples explore real cities on a macro level. I want to explore the micro. Hemingway describes much of Madrid and Pamplona. I want an entire novella in Botin’s restaurant in Madrid. Toole uses food carts throughout his book. I want an entire novella about a single, specific food cart.

A vintage hotel just down the street from my house, The White Haven, was recently torn down. The lot is empty. Maybe, The White Haven would be a great name for a book about the old getting obliterated for the sake of the new. One underpass in particular, just a few miles north, shelters an unusually large number of homeless people. Maybe 670 & Truman would be a good name for a book about a group of homeless trying to survive in Kansas City.

The trick would be to keep these novellas free of gimmickry. These would be legitimate stories, not dependent on the setting, but instead leveraging the setting to inform the story. Is it possible? Would anyone care to read these things?

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrism70/

1 comments from fellow 'Basement' dwellers:

Glenn Hallett said...

Brilliant ideas for unleashing the muses; like the onsite focus. I have an idea for a script/novel for where my wife grew up in Boston; it had occured to me to ride/walk thru the hood~but your focus on site specific is genius~thanx

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