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Michael Douglass’ Outline Of My Lover Essay, Research Paper
Outline of My Lover
What Douglas Martin had to say when he came to our class is probably the most valuable advice I’ve heard so far this semester. Martin’s reasoning is right in tune with my own thinking about writing, and probably why I’m a Creative Writing major versus an English or Lit. major.
I was most impressed with the creative freedom Martin displays in his novel. He spoke a lot about fighting with his editor and the problems a writer can have to face. I write with a lot of incomplete sentences, or a lot of prepositions, and I hear all the time that I shouldn’t be doing this. But that’s the way I want my stories sounding…writing is so much more about how the words flow together and sound than about masterfully constructed sentences. Martin’s book is like that. It’s pretty sounding. It’s poetry. It’s everything your Eighth grade teacher taught you not to do. But the result is emotion you get from reading the story. From feeling the story. I think that is more important than firm character development and a solid storyline. I guess it depends on what you’re looking for as a reader. I wouldn’t recommend Tom Robbins to anyone looking for a classical American writer, you know?
I write because of the freedom that writing can give you. I think Martin explained part of the reasons he writes a little too simply: that he writes to learn about himself because once it’s on paper he can’t do it again. The errors we make in our lives are due to our individual character, and I don’t think putting it on paper is going to be enough to teach ourselves a lesson. Writers get that question a lot, though. I don’t know…why do you write? Why do we do anything? I don’t think it’s that fair of a question, so I really shouldn’t judge Martin’s answer too harshly. He’s on the spot to answer our questions, and answer he did. I liked Rahih Alameddine’s reply a few weeks ago that he writes for revenge. Now that’s a solid reason. I’ll admit I’m a little worried about having a few writers in my family. My step-brother is an excellent writer and has already won quite a few awards, which is great. But how am I going to feel a few years down the line when he starts writing about all the things that went on in our childhood? Martin says he really hurt his mother because after reading the novel she thought what a horrible childhood she’d given her children. No one wants to look like that!
Martin isn’t worried about getting too personal. Rather, he wants to get more personal, because what can he give the public that no other writer can give, but himself? It’s refreshing to hear my own feelings confirmed. In an age where teen horror flicks are re-made and re-made because that is what sells, and where television seems to set the standards under which society lives, it’s great to see that some artists out there believe in offering something new at the risk of failure. Then it’s another whether what you’re giving is yourself, or not. Not really important in my mind. My writing usually starts off about me, but then the characters grow and the story changes itself and suddenly there’s a story about what could have happened to me if I were a boy and I needed to murder my girlfriend…or something. Like Martin says, any story you write is going to be false. It’s a story! How many lives out there really are story material just as they are? Like on MTV’s Real World , there’s tons of editing and circumstances changed to make the storyline interesting. You’ve got to get rid of the good stuff, like Martin said he did about his childhood, thus leading his mother to believe the overall picture was a bad one. He simply had to explain to her that he manipulated the truth to serve his purpose.
What is writing, after all, other than manipulation? Manipulation of circumstance, and manipulation of words. Martin says that’s the problem with America’s writing, that it’s all about character. What about the way the words make you feel? His reading was entirely poetic, which shows how the book is supposed to be read. The story skips around from past to present, leaving the reader under uncertain terms with the storyline and character, but not with the underlying emotion. Even the cover is about lack of image, but no image leaves you without emotion.
Martin’s novel is proof that as writers we can do interesting things with stories, not just with poetry. Martin is currently working on a re-write of another novel. That’s a fabulous idea…we have re-makes of movies, so why not? Blur the lines a little. Spice up a traditional novel and prove that writing is not about connecting the dots and following the rules. It’s a great example for the rest of the world proving that a novel can be beautiful, too. Then you also get writers like Priscilla Lee who shows you that stories can come out of beautiful poetry as well. All these titles and divisions seem to keep getting in the way, don’t they?
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