You're a writer? The horror. The horror.
Don’t get me wrong, writing’s a blast. It’s one of the things that keeps me from becoming a total madman, drooling over myself in a corner somewhere, murmuring about paranoid delusions more than I already do. In that respect, it’s an incredibly important part of my life.
It’s also a way for me to entertain myself. I’m pretty sure that I’m entertaining other people with my writing, but it would be awfully presumptuous of me to assume that everything I write results in anything more than a quick breath through the nose and maybe a nod of the head.
All of this has been brewing in my head since, oh, January of last year, when I was recuperating from Scarlett Thomas’s weekly realist lecture. (She called it tutoring in the Creative Writing M.A., but it was really just gushing about how we should all be like Tolstoy.) I started thinking, “Why did I decide to go for an M.A. in Creative Writing?” I could have done anything that wasn’t in the sciences. Fuck, anthropology’s cool. I could’ve gone into anthropology.
Anyway, I finished the degree, and the really good part about it was that I managed to get a rolling start on Cloyd, which is now finished and is in the drafting-cover-letters portion of its nascency. But the doubts keep coming, which I guess is a good thing. Overconfidence is a weakness, as Luke Skywalker said before being electrocuted by Emperor Palpatine.
So. The Adventures of Cloyd Blank is the first novel idea I’ve had where I’ve had the audacity to actually plan something out. Usually, I start a novel or a short story and just go with the flow. But for this project – and I can remember the exact moment it all hit me – I knew what was going to happen when.
See, I was sitting in a class called American Naturalism/Realism. We were reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. This was about the fifth time I’ve read the book, so my mind started wandering when the topic of racism inevitably came up and the professor – a really nice Irish guy – started getting attacked by a couple of the African-American students for making a joke. Anyway, I started thinking about a conversation a few friends and I were talking about dealing with our ancestors. According to one of them, his last name, Null, came from his grandfather being abandoned on a farm and the Census taker arbitrarily giving him that name. (It’s really a curse, since Jake couldn’t register for accommodation without crashing the computer network.) So, I started thinking, “What if this guy had it much worse? What if there were a modern Huck Finn involving everything I hate about society?” Essentially, I set out to be Mark Twain for a little while.
It turned into what you’re going to read – well, kind of. You’re only going to be reading the first couple of sections. Sorry about that, but it’s still in progress and, once again, I’m going to try to sell this thing. Enjoy.