Meet T.C. Porter
Welcome, fellow writers, to my first blog entry. Purpose is simply to share and reflect the writing life from my own modest vantage point. Some sort of personal introduction seems appropriate. I hope you don’t mind if I borrow from myself and see what I can find here in the cloud. But first, pardon me for a little self-therapy: I will not make these posts perfect. The readers are writers. They will forgive punctuation and factual errors. Many of them are broke, too. I’m not being paid for this. I will not make these posts perfect. The readers are writers ….
Desktop > TC > Documents > Templates > Genre: Unpublished Novelist Bio; for Citywide Writer’s Support Group / Networking Organization / Related Entity.
(1) Insert something about how I’ve always loved to write and dreamed of being published, and how supportive is my spouse, which is good because my family thinks I’m a kook and my dad wished I would have just gotten into business and made a fortune, and so I have serious self esteem issues, wearing thrift store clothing and loitering in places (i.e. Starbucks) frequented by the homeless.
(2) Insert personal trivia, such as I grew up in the Midwest (STL), once covered the Green Bay Packers before their all-pro safety threatened to kill me (literally), and now live in San Diego with my wife and three kids ages 10 mos., 2 and 4; the last bit of trivia (the tiny kids) being the chief reason I will remain an unpublished novelist for the foreseeable future. Also, I am writing not one but two novels, and I subscribe to the wisdom asserting that writing a novel is, like, a ten year process. [Insert: Pope Jon Franzen quote, “I constantly remind myself that there is no hurry.”]
(3) Insert personal ambitions and present activities as a writer. I am plowing through a novel called Boom Street. Plow, as in, slowly adding one chapter at a time, chapters that are mountains plowed across the plains of rough drafting, scraping up everything into the finished chapter, leaving very little behind; every word goes through ruthless revisions and synonym checks. It’s not an entirely inefficient process; I have a drafting file with forty thousand words or so, and I siphon that into the actual novel file which is presently about 15,000 words, or fifty pages. But the process is meticulously effectual compared with a draft novel I wrote last year, some hundred thousand words in four months. The writing got ahead of vision and I ended up with a train wreck of confusion and narrative dead ends. At the same time, I was writing from so many points of view, points of time and places in the universe that from a fiction craft standpoint, I felt ahead of myself. I needed a simpler narrative. So I went back to an old story I hadn’t finished and began rewriting it from scratch (I can’t find the old documents). I am not writing a million words here, and have not written the ending, though I have meditated on it, but it is like a recurring dream, unspoken. I write one chapter, then another, revising each as I write a third. Slowly, steadily, carefully. I count as writing time not only moments at the keyboard but also walks along Mission Beach, daydreaming through years of a prospective character’s life, trying out different scenarios, putting it to rest, sleeping on it, forgetting it, revisiting again. This is my fifth start on a novel and my experience and self awareness tells me that the novel-in-six-weeks formula is not for me, that I’m just focusing on what’s before me, living and breathing this universe of Boom Street, on its own terms, in its own times, and that will be good enough regardless the outcome.
Meanwhile, I’ve sent my short story, “Finding Barbara Busch” (alt. title, “Finding Agape”) to several literary magazines and contests. The business is so huge, I feel like a little disaffected peon. There’s so many things I can’t control; my ambition is simply to be what I’m here to be, and that’s a writer with big vision, cosmic themes, cultural questions; I’m a prophetic voice, an agitator; I ascribe to the school that says entertainment affirms or placates to the reader’s existing worldviews, while an artist calls every prevailing view to question, and I’m an artist.
(4) Insert important tidbits that clarify goals and objectives herein, namely to encourage writers to write, provide a window (mine) into the world of writing, offer firsthand experiences, catalyze conversations, give myself a tangible goal each month (write a few hundred words on writing), give myself a tangible procrastination tool or excuse as to why I’m not really writing (I had to write that SDWI column, you know), give myself at least one avenue into “social media,” which everyone in the know hails as the new mandate for all living things – thou shalt haveth blog, and writeth thine Tweets upon thine right column, and surpass the Holy Facebook friend limit of five thousand, and startith thine own fan page – despite the fact that mastering the art of quick, shallow and ubiquitous kernels of mind lozenges is not the work of the novelist; pasting links and posting photos is the type of activity that erodes the true spirit of the novelist,who is better faced with the deep, long, arduous task of extended solitude and retreat for purpose of being the sole creator of a lengthy and transcendental work of art known as literature; just look up the word novel, a beautiful term. Be encouraged to read and write novels.
(5) Insert list of those on my own Mount Rushmore, the pantheon of writers past, with nods to those en vogue, while keeping politically correct, with at least a third from the countries of France and Russia, none from the oppressive traditions of proselytize religions, a fair amount from each gender, diverse socio-economically, and containing several local authors and at least one poet, and Bob Dillon; plus, David Foster Wallace, Margaret Atwood, Julian Barnes, Ann Patchett, T. Coraghessan Boyle, Jennifer Egan, Jonathan Franzen, Lorrie Moore, Kyle Minor, Richard Russo, Geraldine Brooks, Andre Dubus, etc.
(6) Insert closing pleasantries. Truly: I enjoy the process of being part of the writing community, through San Diego Writers, Ink, and beyond; sharing our secret worlds within, and developing friends and partners. Please feel free to connect at Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, blog – and comment below. Thank you.
T.C. Porter hosts SDWI’s Tuesday morning Room To Write.