The Quick(ish) Descent to Thesis Insanity: In Loco Parenthetical(s)

I keep have a recurring dream. I wake up in my bedroom to my alarm  
going off and my roommate standing in the doorway asking me why I  
haven’t turned off my alarm in days. Confused, I get up and realize  
that my thesis defense started twenty minutes ago. But I can’t find  
my thesis. Or my computer. Or a quality pair of (expensive!)  
distressed jeans to wear. Perhaps more alarmingly, in this dream I  
have a full beard. This happens every other day.

Friends, the Thesis Insanity is in its full anti-glory right now.  
Perhaps this is because I’ve put myself on a plan that calls for  
eight hour writing days, then a break to think about going to the  
gym, decline that notion and watch part of the John Adams HBO mini-
series on my couch with several sleeves of Whole Foods brand Oreo’s,  
a short nap on that couch while John and Abbey Adams share moments of  
passionate sophistry and then a second session that usually lasts  
until I fall asleep on my computer with my face mashed up betwixt the  
JKL and ; keys. The ending to my book won’t stop expanding; each  
scene calls for much more work than I originally imagined; much more  
detail to explain where we’re at, more details in the dialogue, more  
everything. I would be more specific but the idea of expanding on  
something other than my book saddens/frightens me, much like the  
movie Harry and the Hendersons. Less to the point, I haven’t watched  
anything on Netflix since February!!! Do you know how far in the past  
February is???!? Sadly, I do not.

Of course there are bright sides to my pity party Evite. I have  
increased my typed words per minute by just under infinity. For some  
reason, other publications are all of a sudden interested in me doing  
magazine work for them. And, as my dad points out, I “finally know  
what it feels like to actually live in the real world,” something he  
has informed me I “need to get used to” if I expect to ever “be  
invited to SoCal again.” The fact that he said this from his cell  
phone as he was on a golf course and someone in the background was  
imploring that he “hit his lob wedge” remains a source of  
considerable angst.

The truth, friends, is that I’m just tired. I know I will look back  
on this time and remember how hard I worked and how intensive and  
invested I was and that will really make me appreciate a finished  
novel all the more, but right now I just want to take my shirt off,  
wrap it around my head, turn on some intensely melancholy indie rock  
and lie in my bed until May flowers have eclipsed April showers and  
someone has paid my taxes and washed my hand towels.

That is a dream I wouldn’t mind having.

As I attempt to keep it more or less real, tell me happy things in  
the Comments, friends.

Sun shines through the rain.

Eternal,
Flame

The Bangles.

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23 thoughts on “The Quick(ish) Descent to Thesis Insanity: In Loco Parenthetical(s)

  1. Tom

    You bring up yet another good point in all this Genevieve (do people just call you Gen?), which is that the Internet 2.0 has made it a lot easier to get published. Now, all this may not be GOOD work, but quality aside, the written word can be more easily spread by anyone who puts digits to keys. It may be, too, that it has enabled a lot of writers of some quality to reach a broader audience much more quickly. I was just reading today that Diablo Cody’s steps up to her memoir Candy Girl evolved from a blog she did for a local alternative weekly.

    I, of course, cringe at the lackadaisical attitude towards grammar and spelling and the like (and I’m sure I’m not the only one), but the argument stands that it is easier to "get your writing out there" than it ever has been before. Now, if you want to make a living at it, or be picked up by a publishing house – slightly different story. Still and all, you can put your words up for public consumption at the push of a button from the comfort of your bed/desk/loveseat/futon/basement/favoritecoffeeshop/backseatofyourcar/whatevah.

    And, Genevieve, continue to poke fun at the internet. My cell phone doesn’t have a camera or text messaging. It’s a phone.

  2. Genevieve

    Ok, I admit it. I like poking fun at the internet and stuff because I’m not good with computers, or cell phones that do anything but ring. Much like how I used to make fun of school dances because I’m not a good dancer but secretly wish I was. However, when I think about it, technology is what will make us revolutionary writers. Not because we can do all sorts of cool, digital stuff, but because for the first time in a very, very long time anyone can be a writer. All they have to do is start a blog or send a mass e-mail. In Chaucer’s time all you had to do to become a writer was write. There were no book deals, no copyrights, nothing like that. You just had to be a storyteller. It’s kind of the same thing now. Putting something on the internet is selfpublishing. It’s an edgeless blank canvas. There’s no formula to follow, and not even the rules of grammar have to apply. Good point, Tom.

  3. Kyra

    I also popped in here after reading the WD mention. While I’ve never been buried under a deadline with an editor at my back, I understand them just the same.

    I think it’s wonderful that so many other places are showing interest in you! Netflix will wait for you (it turns out they like you better when you forget about them for a while anyway.)

  4. Tom

    I wouldn’t mind being Spawn. Then again, I have vague and distant connections to comic books, so that actually carries its own connotations, which the rest of the non-comic world may not cotton to.

    Did you just type "truck" instead of "trunk?" I thought that was something I was going to see only on eBay!

    That lawn-shavings-Leaves-of-Grass thing – pure brilliance! THAT is outstanding! I like that. Wow, takes me back to my first year of college, first lit class EVER. But I like the creative expression in that act as well. That is so better than having a sticker that says, "Have you read any Walt Whitman today?" And that writing thing? That writing on your car thing? I’m into that. Man, if I still had that crappy white van I think I’d be all over it with some Spraylat 1-Shot and a striping brush.

    That would be a trip. I’d come out of the hardware store, and there’d be someone standing there reading my car! And you know it would happen. Not always, but it would happen. How could you NOT read a car that was covered in words, at least pausing out of curiousity for a moment.

    You pose another great question, Genevieve: Have there been any great revolutionary changes in writing lately? Before I got any further I, of course, thought of tech-boom influences, which you summarily gave a thumbs-down only mere sentences later. I’m afraid, however, that therein lies some of the most recognizable changes in literature, and perhaps not always for the better. Loyal readers of here will recall Kev’s own blog of January 22nd: http://blog.writersdigest.com/writerslife/The+Great+American+Cellphone+Novel+A+Writers+Digest+Exclusive+.aspx Which "treated" us to the apparent downward turn in literature in the form of novels penned on cell phones. Hip, edgy, and (dare I say) novel as this may seem, the realities of it seem to be that it reduces the language in both form and content, replacing full words with conglomerations of word-related letters and numbers, and sentences with simple phrases. Perish the thought that our "new writing" come to this, but it was the first thing that came to mind when you brought up the topic.

    Now, if Spawn isn’t going to work (kind of a bummer, as it carries overtones of heroism, or at least unrealistically anatomically drawn and scantilly clad women), we’ve got to go with Salmon, I guess. So we’re pink then? I’m not sure I’m buying this, but it beats Smelt or Flounder.

    I’m sure Kev dreamed of comment-y moments exactly like these when he was first presented with the opportunity to blog here. He’s probably going all misty-eyed now at how his little baby is just growing and growing…and…uh…growing. Kind of like thos pod things on Invasion of the Bodysnatchers.

  5. Genevieve

    Hmmm…[leans back, sips coffee, muses] bumper stickers that stick somewhere other than the bumper…and say anything…by God it’s brilliant! [leaps forward, spills coffee] They could be on windshields! hubcaps! antennas! But we won’t just have the same old political, moralistic and preachy type of stickers, or the kind that let you know how much better someone else’s kid is doing at school than your kid. We’ll have poetry! Slather the truck of your car in glue, and sprinkle lawn shavings on it in honor of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Scribble a sonnet on your side door entitled, "Ode to a Chevette." It shall be our own brand of experimental expression.

    Mostly I’m being silly, but not entirely. The guy who carved the president’s faces into Mount Rushmore was of the same cloth as the toy car poet, though of course on a grander scale. The novel itself was once an experimental medium, and once it became common writers began experimenting with the form. Guys like Hemingway blew people’s minds by writing with a less is more attitude. He’s actually famous for writing less! Why is it that publishing houses set limits on us when their classic best sellers were all the revolutionary writers of their ages?

    Have there been any revolutionary changes in writing lately? Could we be part of a generation of writers that will one day be classified as something like the realists, the minimalists, and the romantics were? I’d really like to be part of an age other than Generation X. Can we call ourselves something? Any ideas? I’d prefer it not to have anything to do with technology like "the text typers" or the "Youtube-itarians" or something lame like that. Something new, raw, something untamed. Hey! Tom used a word that’s cool. SPAWN! We are Spawn! Oh wait, that’s a comic book character. What is the fish that fights against the current to spawn new life? Salmon? That’s it! WE ARE SALMON! Or perhaps we’ll think on this and regroup. And yeah, Kevin, let us know if we’re taking up too much space on your blog like enormous house guests.

  6. Tom

    Genevieve has brought up a really great point here concerning creativity. A good bit of what we work on as writers is coming up with new ways, or at least unique and memorable ways, of presenting information to people. If we used the same types of sentences with the same words to relate the same ideas over and over, no one would want to read anything we wrote. One of the challenges set before us is to exercise our creativity and utilize language so that we may draw in our readers, even if it’s simply to keep them from falling asleep while reading a text on using Linux.

    Bumper stickers are for bumpers, right? So expression and a message can be transmitted to the public at large by the obvious use of a bumper sticker. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it does a fine job in and of itself. However, where is it said that only a bumper sticker can be stuck to a bumper? For that matter, where is it written that bumper stickers are ONLY for bumpers? That’s where the good stuff happens, when a person stretches outside the boundaries and looks for a word, a phrase, an idea that can be used in a different manner than what is commonly accepted. This is what really grips a reader’s mind, engages them, adds color to our work, and makes for one hell of a fun read.

    Kev,
    Sorry if I kind of hijacked your comments here, but it seemed like an opportunity to make a point about some of the great stuff that we’re here to do as writers. Plus, I think you mentioned many moons ago when you first started this blog, that part of the purpose in it was to spawn these sorts of discussions. If spawning is frowned upon, let me know and I’ll stop swimming upstream. I wish you continued success in the progress on your thesis. I’m positive you’re doing great work!

  7. Genevieve

    Kristan, that list was great. Vicky, the car is an inspiration. I thought I was cool when I had Bill the Cat, The Beatles and The Misfits stickers on my car and while I blared Elton John on the radio. I had to make people think I was silly, interesting and diverse, you know, not your average punk, but toys…it never would have occured to me. Or Calvin and Hobbes! Tom, it’s not too late you can still live the dream.

  8. Tom

    Vicky is my car photo hero for this month! I LOVE that car! If someone suggested that I help them do that to their car (or my old one), I’d be all over it! I guess you sort of give up on washing it after that, however. My old van was white, mostly, but the part that wasn’t white was kind of gray-looking. I always wanted to paint over the gray part with more white and then paint a giant Calvin and Hobbes on the side of it. I cannot explain why I felt the necessity for this, but I did. It never happened, primarily because I was always afraid someone would realize I kept my band gear in the car and they’d steal it out of there once it was so easily recognizable.

    That said, on to happy writing things. This week my order of the first and third volumes of Richard Matheson’s short stories (this is the guy who wrote "I am Legend") arrived at my local independent bookstore, and I’m hungrily devouring them. One down, one to go.

    Kev, I offer my continued support and a…ahhh…a sip of coffee in your efforts. You’re gonna pull this off, and it will be outstanding. We all can’t wait to read it (and I do speak for all of us).

  9. Kristan C.

    These are a few of my happy-est things:

    the 8-week-old boxer puppy I met today; staying awake long enough to watch The Daily Show; realizing I may make my deadlines after all; having lunch tomorrow at a place I’ve always wanted to try out (albeit on a first date, which *ugh*); having spent yesterday tooling around San Francisco and FINALLY finding a dress for the 3 weddings I have this summer; my cats, being asleep and blessedly quiet; waiting for the clock to cross midnight because if the Guitar Hero is still out on his balcony crooning to the world, I’m getting his ass kicked out of this complex.

    It’s the little things in life.

    Hang in there, dude. We are keeping the faith!

  10. Kellan

    Hi Kevin – I read in WD magazine that you started a blog and so here I am checking you out. I have had my blog since late Aug. 2007. I found your article in WD interesting about blogging – it is not as easy as everyone imagines – blogging. Not anything like everyone imagines, really! I wish you well – in blogging and in writing – I enjoy your articles in WD. Nice to meet you – Kellan

  11. Chad

    "go lob a wedge" is kind of like an "down and up".. people only say it make themselves feel cool when golfing in SoCal… and Kevin’s dad is pretty cool. I’ve met him twice.

  12. Kevin Alexander

    this is all very flattering/comforting and NOT only because I’m chalk full o’ emotions/emoticons.

    Apologies for my sporadic, harried, intensely scattered posts and thank you for all your kind, kind words/stories/updates as to whether or not you’re making Irish foodstuffs. Upon the return to normalcy, I will attempt to send you all e-cards. Or a link to one (hilarious!) e-card.

    And Genevieve "go lob a wedge" has been forever incorporated into my golf vernacular regardless of whether or not it makes sense.

    Thanks again everyone.

  13. Lisa Bakewell

    Again, Kevin, funny stuff. You might even be funnier when you’re harried–if that’s possible. If your book is anything like your posts, I can’t wait to read it. I’m sure it’s great.

    Keep up the great work.

    Lisa

  14. Shelly

    The word dedication comes to mind. For most people "in the real world" (as your dad would say) work 8 hours a day. Although, most do linger around the office finding ways to procastinate about 3 to 4 of those hours down the drain but you, Kev, have been pushing the limits. Tapping into overdrive and finding ways to squeak in a blog posting while feverly typing your thesis, is nothing but awesome.

    Keep up the good work, so we in the real world can eventually send the procastinating time reading your soon-to-be novel.

  15. Genevieve

    ps- I don’t know beans about golf. I apologize if "go lob a wedge" is some sort of haenous insult that only those in the golfing underground know about. I was just being silly.

  16. Genevieve

    You’re going to be fine, Kev. I will share a Toni Morrison story that has helped me in my most grievous, Oreo-indulging moments of novel despair (and if I’ve told this story before, please forgive me. senile and repeating myself at 32, oh the humanity!) Last spring I went to hear Toni Morrison give a reading. After she read an excerpt from her novel, the one she received a pulitzer for, she paused giving the paperback a puzzled look, and then she said, "I need to rewrite this." So I don’t know if there ever comes a point when a book feels finished, even if you win a $%*! Pulitzer Prize.

    Your writing is incrediblilistically awesome, man. Even in your blog, it’s honest and has heart. Tell your dad to cut you some slack and go lob a wedge.

  17. Renee

    Betwixt is a fun word to say. Netflix is an addiction. I recently upgraded to getting 3 movies at a time.
    Don’t worry you’ll make it through this rough time…hopefully!

  18. Tom

    Kev, I feel like I’m right back in college working on my final final exam. I remember this oddly bouyant yet weighty feeling that it was all ending soon. All of it. Fueled by Mountain Dew (we had no Red Bull, Surge, or Whoopass in those dark days), I labored on, and good things happened. I passed everything, including the class I was sure I would fail (I think I achieved a C+ somehow).

    I said this at the outset: you’re gonna knock ’em dead, man. You’re totally gonna nail this thing. Darkest before dawn and all that stuff. If it were within my power, I’d at least drop off some new towels for you. I have no idea why you need them, but if it helps, there ya go.

    Thanks for taking the time to blog during these harried hours.

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