This is traveling Thursday, but instead of a physical location, I’d like to tell you about my inner travel experiences with a 3-day writing boot camp and Junot Diaz. (He wasn’t there, mind you).
At the BootCamp, we learned about opening velocity like Frank McCourt in Teacher Man: ” Here they come, and I’m not ready. How could I be? I’m a new teacher and learning on the job. On the 1st day of my teaching career, I was almost fired for eating the sandwich of a high school boy.”
Here’s another one, JM Tohline from his upcoming novel, The Great Lenore,” When I met Lenore, she’d been dead for four days.” Grabbers, for sure.
After listening to 3 days of the character, dialogue, and voice critiqued and critiquing, I wanted to flop on the couch, but it was filled with signs, targets, and circles with slashes over the words “As, just, -ing, ly, stay in POV.” You get the picture.
It was a great experience, and my classmates were incredible people, but after three days, I was utterly exhausted. Yes, I used an -ly.
So the next day, at Border’s, you know they’re down to 40%; my writing world was expanded to bits. This book took me back to Sandra Cisneros’s poems, language, and energy. I turned the book over, I didn’t like the pink smudge on the cover, and back over again:
“The Brief, Wonderous World of Oscar Wao.” The title was reminiscent of old movies. As I usually do, I read the first line of the first chapter (for opening velocity, of course). Como que first line, the dude grabbed me at the title of the chapter “GhettoNerd at the End of the World 1974-1987-The Golden Age.” I can relate.
Junot Diaz breaks the rules with no commas, periods, quotes, or exclamation points! Two to a page sometimes, and footnotes to there, imaginate comadre!
He slapped at all the rules, like a chancla to a cucaracha. He takes you on a wild ride through the DR to Jersey and back. And it’s all good. His writing style inspires me; maybe now I can get more emotion and depth into my manuscripts if I type pell-mell into my own world and raise a middle finger to ‘the rules.’
My writing teachers say, “But that’s not his first book; he can do what he damn well pleases now.” Maybe that axiom is true. I don’t know. I haven’t read his first book “Drown,” but I’m going back to Borders to search for that one.