Tag Archives: writers

McCracken vs. the Kraken

I’ve spent the summer writing and I’m impressed with how diverse writing is as an experience.    

Sometimes, it’s like being the captain of ship.  You are in charge.  You have navigational information.  You have logged a plan and you are sticking to it.

Sometimes, writing is like being a passenger on the upper berths.  Someone else is making the decisions but the passage is pleasant, arrival is assured.

Sometimes, writing is like being a passenger on the lower berths.  Much less pleasant, but, hey, eventually Lady Liberty will come shining into view and we’ll be off this f***ing ship.

Sometimes writing is clinging to a piece of wreckage in high waves. You are cold, frightened and disoriented.  Arrival is out of the question.  Perishing at sea is not.

Sometimes, writing is like standing on a god forsaken island, scrutinizing an empty horizon. No one is coming.  You are good and lost.  Your only companion is Wilson, a painted volleyball, and it turns out he has no ideas.  Well, a few.  But frankly, he doesn’t get the whole anthropology thing.  

It turns out that the number one cause of shipwreck is a creature called, in my case, the Kraken (pictured).

Grant McCracken sticks to is knitting.  He writes all day, every day, as hard as he can.  The Kraken likes to go stand in front of an open fridge.  That 5 watt bulb is his idea of illumination.

McCracken files a navigational plan and sticks to it.  The Kraken likes to go inking off in all directions.  I swear to got he has the attention span of a house plant, and now that he has access to YouTube, well…, hey, have you seen this kitten video.

McCracken is trying his hardest to build a couple of useful ideas.  The Kraken prefers to wreck havoc on marine traffic.  He’s never met an idea he didn’t want to pull into a watery grave. 

I am please to report that on this day of our Lord, August 19, 2013, I have made 22,968 words of progress.  But I am also obliged to tell you that the Kraken lies in wait. 

Calling all journalists (ok, some journalists)

If you were 22, recently graduated from the college of your choice, and fizzing with literary talent, where would you be headed?  Novels? Broadway? Off Broadway? Television?

Exactly. You would be headed for TV. This is where the action is.  (Let me read the following programs into evidence:

House, Modern Family, Mad Men, The Good Wife, Glee, Friday Night Lights, 30 Rock, The Big Bang Theory, Dexter, Fringe, The Closer, Weeds, The Office, The Big C, The Simpsons, Psych. Just for starters

TV is where people as vastly talented as Aaron Sorkin and David Milch now ply their trades. This is the Globe of the moment.  This is our London in the 16th century.  This is our Paris of the first half of the 20th century.  LA is it.  

A couple of days ago, when I was noting the sheer volume of good programs on TV, I failed to see there is no culture without structure.  It just didn’t occur to me that for Hollywood and Burbank to be turning out good TV, there has to be an influx of talent of every kind (writing, directing, acting, casting, etc.).  

Hence my image, here, of Hurricane Fred.  This is meant to represent talent being pulled from all directions into Los Angeles.  (Yes, I know, Hurricane Fred had nothing to do with LA.  Work with me.)

You say hurricane.  I say virtuous cycle.  The better TV gets, the more talented people come, and the better TV gets and the more talented people come…and so on.  

Which means at this very moment there has to be a 22 year old getting off the bus in LA preparing to make his or her fortune in this the great center of popular culture, make that American culture.  

Which means that there is one whopping story to be written here for Rolling Stone or someone, the story of great talent pouring into a city now prepared, sometimes, to make it welcome.  This means there are bars where aspiring writers meet to aspire.  There have to be places in town where talent eddies.  There has to be a whole lot of networking going on.  

If I were not preoccupied with other things, (the proposal for the new book is as of this evening officially done. Publishers, start your engines), I would fly to LA and start an anthropological investigation of LA and its literary subcultures.   So, I can’t.  How about you?