As you can imagine, I am a smidge obsessed with me. Well, my blog, anyway.
I originally took it on as a discipline in writing and, tho it was not intended to be a book (it was supposed to be just an exercise), I am also a smidge lazy and it seemed that writing for exercise only is like hiking and paddling just to hike and paddle….no real point (see previous blog). So, after a few blogs hit the ether, I was trying to tie them together in some way so that there might be a theme or a story.
Seems I have failed. I have reams of words but no real theme, no story-line.
If you have read any number of them, you’ll have noticed that I have a strong tendency to wander off topic – the topic being, presumably, living off the grid. Worse, there seems to be a problem with having a topic, a main theme, a story in the first place. Living off the grid is not really a story. So far, my story is just one of a guy enjoying his life. Off the grid, to be sure but like, it is describing paint drying, isn’t it?
Sadly, there is no crime, no mystery, no car chases and no sex to weave into the narrative. Well, there may be some of that but I am not at liberty to say. Sensibilities demand decorum and discretion. No ‘real life’ permitted, don’t you know?.
Which tends to present as if I live exclusively off building projects and the antics of orcas and ravens.
Not only do I seem to focus on sheds, birds and sea-going mammals, I tend to go off on unrelated tangents like politics and, well, this type of self-indulgent entry. I seem to be wandering from a fleeting main focus (say, shed building) without actually having a larger main focus (fact: shed building does NOT a story make!). I find this disturbing. I mean, really! After all this time and effort, you would think I would have something consistent to say about something…other than sheds, ravens and orcas, wouldn’t you?
Sally has made it pretty clear that politics isn’t it. She has been culling the political pieces and putting them in a file carefully marked ‘to be deleted’. Sadly, there is also a file titled: ‘likely to be deleted’ and another one: ‘saved but not useable’. There’s ‘Doubtful’, ‘Maybe’ and ‘No way!’ as well. She’s ruthless. Put more succinctly, no political pieces will survive the editor’s cut.
Character sketches of local people are also off-limits. Seems the consensus is (you know how consensus is achieved, right?) that describing locals as they really are is to invite shunning and stoning at the very least. Might make book club a bit awkward. So, ergo, we have the highest concentration of characters and whack-jobs this side of the Rockies and I have to keep my mouth shut. How do you do character development without characters?
To be fair, there is not much in the way of developing character going on, anyway. Our neighbours are just plain nuts and they are staying that way. It is not likely to change any time soon. So you would have lots of character description and then, several chapters later, they would all still be the same. Like a sit-com, actually.
I have been looking at off-the-grid-type books and they are, generally speaking, pretty pathetic. One author defined off-the-grid as basically down, out and eccentric. He had chapters dedicated to people living in their cars or abandoned buses, for instance. Not quite what I would have described.
Then there are those who seem to confuse off-the-grid with saintly altruism of the eco-organic-recycling-bicycling world. They might live down a main highway and turn off down a paved side road and enjoy piped-in water and electricity but they have solar panels, eat local and compost their own waste or whatever. Maybe a chicken or two. Interesting, I suppose, in a Walter-Mitty-goes-to-the-country kind of way but again, not quite what I would describe.
The real off-the-gridders (in my opinion) are really hardy and quite remarkable. Way more so than we who attend yoga, book-club and Costco. Read Chris Czajkowski: http://www.nuktessli.ca/books.html She is off the grid. Those are the books to write.