Evolution of a Writing Style: Quotation Marks

Quotation marks

Quotation marks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cormac McCarthy

Cormac McCarthy (Photo credit: alessio.sartore)

Sometimes on Xanga people would comment on how I don’t use quotation marks.  That is intentional.  It wasn’t until I read Cormac McCarthy that I realized how superfluous quotation marks are and that anyone who has mastered the basics of writing dialog can do without them.  McCarthy always writes in 3rd person, and it’s easier to do without them in 3rd.  It’s a little harder in 1st, which is what I use almost exclusively but in 1st it can be done.  As far as the reader is concerned it’s usually just a matter of getting used to it.

McCarthy doesnt stop there.  He omits apostrophes in common contractions that everyone knows such as dont, cant, wasnt, and so on.  He said he doesn’t like those little marks cluttering up the page.  I dont know about that but I do know it makes for a cleaner, more stark style of writing, which is nice if your style is minimalist like mine.

I took it even further.  In deciding to invent a style of writing for the internet I started using common internet acronyms such as IDK, WTF, IRL, TMI, and so on.  I used email style as a model for taking it further, the kind of careless writing people use when they’re in a hurry.  I used convenient misspellings such as “thru” for through, although I know how to spell.  And for another iconoclastic touch I dont capitalize “I” unless it comes at the start of the sentence.   In addition to writing in first person I wrote in the present tense, which gives an immediacy to writing that holds suspense very well.  I’d get comments such as, “I felt like I was right in that room.”

Sometimes after years of writing fiction you figure out how to do it right in a flash of inspiration.  The author of Bridges of Madison County had such a Eureka experience and went on to write more.  I’m not comparing myself to him but I understand what happens.  That summer I went on to finish an autobiographical novel and then the Dana series as well as Since Yesterday, Axel’s Travels, some others.  Suddenly, liberated from stylistic conventions I became prolific and wrote more than i’d have thought possible.

Not everyone likes this style of writing but it grows on you until you feel like why doesn’t everyone do it this way.  And any fiction writer who wants to try it will find it easier than it looks.  

Stump Humping

Back when I was a practicing psychologist I/we would get a lot of referrals from the court.  When it was a court order we had to see the person in trouble and they had to see us if they wanted to stay on probation and out of the joint.

There’s one that i remember vividly.  It was an ol’ boy from way out in the sticks who was highly unsocialized but there was nothing really wrong with him.

When I asked him why he was there he said he was there was for stump humpin.’  Now I’m a city boy and didn’t know what that was.  He said it was when a cow was out in the field with its ass toward you, you would get up on a stump behind the cow and drop your pants and…

At that point I stopped him and said that I got the picture.  In my psych eval I said that this guy was just unsocialized and was neither disturbed nor criminal nor a danger to society and that he should be taught more appropriate ways to express his sexuality,yak, yak yak.

Anyway, I wrote a song about him called Bessie and Me.  I borrowed a melody from a beer commercial and put the chords in from that.  The lyrics are all mine.  And I’ll share it when I find it.  BTW I don’t see that there was any damage to the cow.  I doubt she even noticed.

Lou

Trapped in an alley, i couldnt run

Facing down a man with a cross and a gun

His face was blue

He said my name is Lou and it’s my sacred duty to kill you

 

His eyes twitched around, the gun fell to the ground

He threw the cross in the sewer

And before i could run he said

I’m a talker not a doer

 

Then his face turned bluer

As he fell to the sewer

He hit his head and was still

His dead eyes on the man he would kill

 

It started raining here where nobody had seen

No camera recording this thing from a dream

And i just wanted to go home

Roswell 45: Isabel and Alex

Days and weeks slouch by as February staggers into March and rags of dirty snow cling to the ground in the back yard by a copse of dead trees that once sheltered the last wolves.  Alex keeps trying to date Isabel and she keeps dismissing him as politely as she can.  She likes Alex, maybe because he is superficially like Max but she does not reciprocate his feelings for her however meager or fulsome.  She wonders if he is still not speaking to Liz but that isnt something one asks.

Liz told her that she thought Alex would keep quiet but she wasnt entirely sure.  So Isabel decides to dreamwalk into his mind to answer that question.

As Isabel tries to walk into Alex’s mind she crosses some threshold into his dreams, hers and his.  Dreams and visions that sail on feathery wings borne up from currents of seething things of the night, hot erotic fantasies come to life or dreams of blood and vengeance that only the wicked vessel of the heart may contain.

With a shock she sees Alex in bed without a stitch on.  He rolls over and says, Hi, Isabel.  How’s your sex life?

How’s my sex life?  She sputters angrily.  It’s fine.  How’s yours?  Go fuck yourself.

Dont be mean to me, he says, laughing.

He touches her hand and she gets in bed with him and he slowly undresses her and they do unspeakable things until she wakes with a start, bathed in night sweat.  Is this why she keeps pushing him away?

Of course it is, she says to herself.  She wasnt seeing into his mind.  She was seeing into hers.  And she is terrified.  For herself and all of them.

Lights of Hong Kong

I feel the press of my dead children crowding close to me

And with each morning passing there’s one less day to see

Carson sings Feliz Navidad that was his favorite song

And the only comfort left now is that i dont have long

 

Sparkie worried about me when i was alone

Took care of me when i was sick and her mommy was long gone

I’d play an old guitar and she’d sing an old folk song

As we looked away in wonder at the lights of old Hong Kong

 

It’s not that i’m going anywhere, they’re coming back for me

If this is it then i dont care it’s with them i should be

My heart is barely beating and my breath is almost gone

But thru the shrouded window creeps the glow of my last dawn

 

They should all still be here when i’m dead and in the ground

But somehow it happened the other way around

It’s my reward for the arrogance of living much too long

Before i sail away across the bay to the lights of old Hong Kong

Jisatsu

There’s no place quite as merry

As Greenwood cemetery

Grass green, sky blue

To rest in peace

Is all i want to do.

 

I looked at some graves today

Had no money but that’s okay

You can have one said the man

So i bought one on the easy payment plan

 

There’ll be no hunger, no strife

When i finally end my life

No sadness, no pain

Always sunshine, never see the rain

 

There’s a softly opening door

To things i’ve never seen before

Hear the sound of distant drums

I wont be here when the morning comes

 

 

 

The Promise

I got this from someone at a cat lover’s group on FB who got it from somewhere else.   The last three lines are mine, since i cant leave anything alone.  If you’re a hard core cat lover i think you’ll understand.

I will never leave you at a shelter

or let you starve

or let you hurt

or desert you when you get old

or leave you when you go blind

And if that time ever comes

I will be there to hold you

Even to the end of the world

Because i love you

And you are my child

 

Phenomenology is the Light of the World

Once I was drowning in life’s filthy sea

Then came that fateful day

When I picked up a book by Merleau-Ponty

I knew I’d finally found the way

 

Phenomenology showed me what it was giving

Answered all my questions why

Phenomenology gave me a reason for living

It even told me why I must die

 

Now Hector’s got a body and Hector’s got a brain

And a tunnel going right to Duquesne

He dont need no money and he dont need no girl

Cause he’s got the light of the world

 

Now Hector’s in his office, reading Merleau-Ponty

Writes descriptions all day

He dont care about us or what we see

Cause he knows he has the only way

 

Now Hector’s living in the tunnel, his wisdom grows

Sees his destiny unfurl

And as he lives from day to day he knows

Phenomenology’s the light of the world.

 

Shine on, light of the world

Goodnight everybody, everybody  everwhere

Amen

Allelujah   Bonnng!