Thursday, April 17, 2003

Journal entry: 4-27-03

For the last few weeks I've been trying to get my new novel started. This usually involves a lot of looking through Google under various search topics related to the themes and ideas that I have scribbled down. The basic premis for this new book originally came to me way back in my freshmen year at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).

It was fall and little did I know that I was alergic to artist's pastells which is what we were using in my Life Drawing class, almost exclusively. So I had a sinus infection and went to the doctor, who prescribed hefty doses of antibiotics. So after a day spent walking aorund (Savannah in the fall is still quite warm) I was sitting in my dorm room doodling, blissed out on antibiotics. That's where I first drew the All-Seeing Cheese, a wedge of swiss with an eyeball in the center, after the Great Masonic seal on the Dollar Bill. This strange bit of surrealism sparked an idea, involving a chef who dabbled in the esoteric, his daughter who reluctantly went along and a pair of giant lobsters who were the eternal guardians of the mystic cheese wedge. Did I mention I was on medication?

This became the basis for my most well received plot in my Comic Book Plotting Class (yes I have a degree in comic books., thank you). Later I wrote an 8 page script and then in my senior year, for my advanced Scriptwritting class, expanded the story to 32 pages.

Years passed. Four years, actually durring which time I wrote "the Tragic Circus" (for an excerpt, see bellow). But the story about the Chef's daughter and her adventures in the esoteric had been bubbling away in the back of my mind since then and I decided I would tweek the plot and make it my next project. The All-Seeing Cheese, as fun as it was for a comic book, didn't translate well into novel format. So it became an enchanted spice rack. OK, but not great... I've spent the last two monthes generating some raw material, about 25 pages of scenes and diologue, character sketches, etc. But I still had a few too many loose ends to make it work. All the characters were there, I just didn't have anything for them to do. Then, one day while perusing Neil Gaiman's site ( He happened to mention an article from March 16 about a talking fish. And there it was, the idea for my book. It fit perfectly, like finding that last puzzle piece under the sofa.

After two weeks of solid writing and reworking some of that rough material, I'm up to chapter six. The Chef's daugther, Salome, has met the Talking Fish (a trout, so as not to be confused with Gunter Grass's talking Flounder). So far she's being wooed by an amorous Rabbi, has the hots for a bookish boy named Jonah who speaks only in open ended questions and I think one of her fellow waitresses at her Father's restaurant is a lesbian and has a crush on her. She's being very coy about it though.

And this is the fun part of writing: not knowing what will happen next. I mean, obviously I have an idea but the characters decide for themselves, sometimes making decisions that startle even me. Here I thought I was writing this story, that it was mine. Then Rabbi Cohen invites Salome over to the synagogue for sandwich's, which I hadn't counted on but ended up being a good way for me to sneek in some mythological exposition about Leviathan and talking fish. And it only took me eight years to do it.

For a good acount of the talking fish story, go


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